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Euhelopus multi-view skeletal

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Euhelopus zdanskyi is a small Somphospondylian sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous period (120 million years ago) of Shandong Province, China.

A Graphic Double Integration (GDI) estimate of its volume results in a mass estimate of about 1.9-2 tonnes in weight. As reconstructed, it was about 10.3 meters long from the rostral-most portion of the skull to the posterior-most portion of the tail.

This illustration has the dubious distinction of being the only multi-view restoration of this animal as far as I am aware.

For the most part, only bones that are preserved are shown. The exception is some parts of the skull, which are colored dark gray to show they are unknown. Also, the anterior portion of the preacetabular process of the ilium is not preserved. This is indicated in gray in dorsal view, however this missing portion is not reconstructed at all in lateral view.


Wilson, Jeffrey A.; and Upchurch, Paul (2009). "Redescription and reassessment of the phylogenetic affinities of Euhelopus zdanskyi (Dinosauria:Sauropoda) from the Early Cretaceous of China". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 7 (2): 199–239.

Wiman, Carl (1930). "Die Kreide-Dinosaurier aus Shantung" (in German). Palaeontologia Sinica, series C 6 (1): 1–67.
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PigsFly1010's avatar

Weird neck bend, seems like a short-tailed diplodocus.

palaeozoologist's avatar

Yeah, the neck is weird, and it doesn't help that the fossils are slightly distorted. I probably could've interpolated a bit more to take that into account. I would revise aspects of this if I did it today.

Algoroth's avatar
Nice skeletal, but skinny forelegs. Do you actually think any sauropod had legs that thin? Even most terrestrial lizards have thicker limbs.

Exceptions! Dead lizard mummies! I've seen them! I've held them in my hands!

I know it seems like nitpicking to you, but some artists these days draw sauropods that would sink into the sand, their legs are so thin. I know, from reading a large number of your back and forth discussions with Paleo King that you guys are sticklers for accuracy. To me, accuracy also means getting something real looking in the fleshed out restorations/black outlines in skeletal diagrams. I've seen it claimed here that sauropods were basically as athletic as elephants, a theory I agree with. I'd think at least elephant style musculature MIGHT be the minimum we can expect these beasts to have had.

I've read the reasoning behind the style; small elbows, small attachments for muscles and so on. Doesn't fly with me, unless you can show me fossil evidence that sauropods had no muscles, just straight tendons. THEN I'll say nothing about the skinny legs.
palaeozoologist's avatar
I get this criticism a lot, actually, that my sauropods have too skinny of forelimbs. One thing to remember, is that sauropods are not elephants. Elephants are big mammals with big brains, and can move their limbs in fairly intricate ways. Sauropods had small brains, and if I remember correctly, some research indicates that sauropods lacked lots of forelimb coordination due to poor neural controls. I believe a researcher named Emily Giffin has published data showing that the neural controls of the forelimbs (indicated by the cross-sectional area of the neural canal in the shoulder region) of Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus were less well developed than in other quadrupedal animals. Unfortunately, I can't find the citation to back this up. IMO, the shoulder muscles were well developed due to the large deltapectoral crests, however you can't really see this in my skeletals because the rest of the body obscures this. In my interpretation, the rest of the limb muscles were relatively light. I should also note that elephants limbs are somewhat of an illusion due their saggy skin--something sauropods probably did not have. Also, I've read somewhere that since most sauropods were quite large and likely had high blood pressure due to their long necks, the skin and tendons in the limbs would have been very tight so blood wouldn't "pool" in the limbs. I may be wrong, but that is my current reasoning.
Algoroth's avatar
Lower coordination is a reason to have more muscular limbs, not thinner!--since the beasty would be more clumsy and need the extra mass/strength simply to survive day-to-day problems.

As a person who walks a lot, is old and clumsy, and has to go through some rough areas, I can vouch for that claim. Not scientific, but welcome to the real world. Seeing that sauropods were wildly successful in a rough world, I imagine they were tough. Sometimes theory has a rough time with fact. It might be salutary to find out how much redundancy nature builds into animal/plant structures compared to the minimum theory would suggest. Standing still requires far less muscular/skeletal effort than even a slow walk. A slow, straight walk stresses the joints nowhere near as much as a slow turn. I cannot prove that scientifically, but hundreds of hours of walking/hiking has shown me the truth. Try it out and see.

As an aside here, I love science. I grew up with science and still follow it as best I can. I am not anti-science.

The following might seem like a non sequitur, but it isn't. One can watch olympic weightlifters lift weights over their heads. Some do massive weights, but think about this: if a lifter has to snatch (one motion overhead) two hundred pounds, how much lift in pounds/kilos does said lifter have to exert on the bar to get it overhead? Two hundred pounds of energy applied will leave the bar laying on the floor. It will be weightless in regard to the floor, yes, but it will stay put. You are very mathematically minded, so you might be able to test my reasoning. Youtube Yury Zakharevich and you'll see what I'm talking about. A snatch, once started, is usually completed in a split second, not counting the time the lifter takes to get up out of the squat. How much does the bar's velocity change? I don't know, but a LOT of force is applied to get it overhead as fast as one can blink their eyes. Just as a weightlifter needs to apply more force to the bar than the mere weight might indicate, any change in vector and/or velocity places more stress on the bones than one might think, as well as the muscles. Also, when used, and stressed--and the animal is able to acquire enough nutrition--muscles get stronger in a healthy individual. So, even if the animal starts out with the minimum needed to get around, they will get stronger as they use their bodies. Bigger? Depends upon many factors, but stronger is necessary. And vertebrate muscles, when expanding and contracting, change their shape. Stretch and they get thinner; flex and they bulge. Maybe not much, but they DO bulge. Try this, if you haven't already. Flex your arm (bulge your biceps) with your wrist aimed towards your head. Take note of the shape of the biceps, then simply turn your wrist. Doesn't matter if you're Sandow or skinny, it will change shape. In my opinion, this has to be accounted for in accurate restorations, or they're not true-to-life. How much? Who knows? It varies, so there's not an absolute bar the artist has to jump over, but I feel it must be indicated. The way vertebrates are designed, if one muscle group on a limb is stretched, the other is flexed. Even standing with one's arms hanging limp, this is true. In this case, biceps are stretched, triceps are flexed. Try it and see.

I am not thinking of the fat and skin when talking about elephants and rhinos and horses, etc., but the muscles I see rippling under the skin. As I've said before, watch some videos; you'll see what I mean. My personal experiences with elephants is at a distance, but I've been around horses and dogs quite a lot, and, as an artistic observer.

I agree about the lower limbs and I've seen this reasoning before. I believe giraffes solve the pooling problems that way, and why not? The lower legs and forelimbs, even in huge graviportal animals, are usually much slimmer than the upper limbs. I have tried to specify the upper limbs in my critiques. Elephants, rhinos, hippos, bovine animals, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, and horses all have slim lower limb elements, especially the fast cursorial creatures. I expect most dinosaurs did too. Birds too! Look at rheas, ostriches, cranes, and most any (if not ALL) birds have very slender lower limb elements. The drumsticks are well-muscled at only one end (proximal) if I remember at all correctly.

So yes, I agree with slender lower limbs, whether hind end or front end.

And I think most quadrupedal dinos likely had massive shoulders, but I cannot say one way or the other. Since those areas of the muscular system had to provide a lot of the motive force to enable them to move, fight and even stand, I'd guess they'd be reasonably massive.
palaeozoologist's avatar
To me, lower coordination does not imply more muscle mass, but if you know of research that indicates otherwise, I'd be happy to take a look and change my views. To me, lower coordination does not imply the degree of muscle mass. Coordination to me is preciseness in movement, and has little to do with muscle mass but more with brain size and neuron connections and, in some cases, how often the action is repeated.

I agree that we need to look at the real world and have common sense when restoring extinct animals. However, when I see your average hiker, walker or runner I don't see someone with large muscles, usually I see someone with lean, albeit, strong, muscles. Of course, there are many exceptions. But, in my mind, (and I might be wrong), coordination and muscle mass are not terribly closely related from my observations.

I agree with your observations that muscles change shape depending on the specific movements and I agree that the muscles would get stronger and larger through use.

I might note that sauropods probably weren't doing a lot of lifting. They, like elephants, might have slept standing up, and there is no reason to think they were doing a lot with their limbs otherwise than walking and the occasional kick at a predator.

So, do my sauropods need some more meat on their bone? Probably, yes. How much? IMO, not a lot, but feel free to show me otherwise, I appreciate the comments and feedback.
Algoroth's avatar
I agree with you, for the major part. I don't think sauropods and ceratopsians were massively built for their size, but neither are elephants built huge in the limbs for their size. I'd say you are close to what they were in life. I'm going to be submitting more stuff soon, some of which will show sauropod limbs. My Paralatitan on DA is being swamped by a wave, so he can't show his magnificent gams. Of current artists? My vote goes to Mark Hallett for probably getting sauropod limbs close to correct. As I have said, these are my thoughts. If you hate Mark Hallett, forget I said anything.

As for Knight...his ancient mammals are likely on the money. Many of his dinosaurs had lizard-like gams, a product of paleontological thinking of his day. Exceptions? He painted a gorgeous picture of an allosaur squatting over its meal. The upper legs are very bird-like in their proportions Remember, Knight had trained scientists watching over and criticizing is work--sometimes drove him to distraction--so he was not just winging it. And Knight was a fine observer, working pics of modern animals from life.

Enough of my rave for Knight. Keep up the good work! I love your stuff!
palaeozoologist's avatar
I like Hallett, but much of his dinosaur stuff is dated unfortunately. His sauropod legs are pretty good.

I like Knight too. Sure the anatomy isn't that great in the cases of the dinosaurs, but he definitely knew his way around a brush and some paint!
EmperorDinobot's avatar
The sky is the limit.
palaeozoologist's avatar
Not sure what you mean, but OK :)
EmperorDinobot's avatar
palaeozoologist's avatar
Gotcha. I will be doing a version with the neck raised out of ONP in the future (not a mult-view, however; it will be similar to my other Euhelopus skeletal, only with the neck raised out of ONP).
Raithed's avatar
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