2020-05-29Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3389/feart.2020.00160
The Tail of the Late Jurassic Sauropod Giraffatitan brancai: Digital Reconstruction of Its Epaxial and Hypaxial Musculature, and Implications for Tail Biomechanics
Dinosaur locomotion and biomechanics, especially of their pelvic girdles and hindlimbs, have been analyzed in numerous studies. However, detailed volumetric musculoskeletal models of their tails are rarely developed. Here, we present the first detailed three-dimensional volumetric reconstruction of the caudal epaxial and hypaxial musculature of the Late Jurassic sauropod Giraffatitan brancai, and highlight the importance and necessity of 3D modeling in musculoskeletal reconstructions. The tail of this basal macronarian is relatively short compared to diplodocids and other coexisting macronarians. The center of mass lies well in front of the hindlimbs, which support only ca. half the body weight. Still, our reconstruction suggests a total weight for the entire tail of ca. 2500 kg. We conclude that the hypaxial and tail-related hindlimb muscles (most specifically the M. caudofemoralis longus and its counterpart the M. ilioischiocaudalis) in Giraffatitan were well developed and robustly built, compensating for the shorter length of the M. caufodemoralis longus, the main hindlimb retractor muscle, in comparison with other sauropods. Our methodology allows a better-constrained reconstruction of muscle volumes and masses in extinct taxa, and thus force and weight distributions throughout the tail, than non-volumetric approaches.