Giraffatitan (name meaning "titanic giraffe") is a genus of sauropod dinosaur that lived during the late Jurassic Period (Kimmeridgian–Tithonian stages). It was originally named as an African species of Brachiosaurus (B. brancai), but this has since been changed. Giraffatitan was for many decades known as the largest dinosaur but recent discoveries of several larger dinosaurs prove otherwise; giant titanosaurians appear to have surpassed Giraffatitan in terms of sheer mass. Also, the sauropod dinosaur Sauroposeidon is estimated to be taller and possibly heavier than Giraffatitan.
All size estimates for Giraffatitan are based on the specimen HMN SII, a subadult individual between 21.8–22.5 metres (72–74 ft) in length and about 12 meters (39 ft) tall. Mass estimates are varied and range from as little as 15 tonnes (17 short tons) to as much as 78.3 tonnes (86.3 short tons) but there is evidence supporting that these animals could grow larger; specimen HMN XV2, represented by a fibula 13% larger than the corresponding material on HMN SII, might have attained 26 metres (85 ft) in length or longer.
|Mounted skeleton, Berlin's Natural History Museum|
Between 1914 and the 1990s, Giraffatitan was claimed to be the largest dinosaur known, (ignoring the possibly larger but lost Maraapunisaurus) and thus the largest land animal in history. In the later part of the twentieth century, several giant titanosaurians found appear to surpass Giraffatitan in terms of sheer mass. However, Giraffatitan and Brachiosaurus are still the largest brachiosaurid sauropods known from relatively complete material.
All size estimates for Giraffatitan are based on the skeleton mounted in Berlin, which is partly constructed from authentic bones. These were largely taken from specimen HMN SII, a subadult individual between 21.8–22.46 metres (71.5–73.7 ft) in length and about twelve meters (forty feet) tall. The often mentioned length of 22.46 metres is by Werner Janensch, the German scientist who described Giraffatitan, and was the result of a simple adding error: the correct number should have been 22.16 metres. Mass estimates are more problematic and historically have strongly varied from as little as 15 tonnes (17 short tons) to as much as 78 tonnes (86 short tons). These extreme estimates are now considered unlikely due to flawed methodologies. There are also a large number of such estimations as the skeleton proved to be an irresistible subject for researchers wanting to test their new measuring methods. The first calculations were again made by Janensch. In 1935, he gave a volume of thirty-two cubic metres for specimen SII and of twenty-five cubic metres for specimen SI, a smaller individual. It is not known how he arrived at these numbers. In 1950, he mentioned a weight of forty tonnes for the larger skeleton. In 1962, Edwin Harris Colbert measured a volume of 86.953 m³. Presuming a density of 0.9, this resulted in a weight of 78,258 kilogrammes. Colbert had inserted a museum model, sold to the public, into sand and observed the volume displaced by it. Gregory S. Paul in 1988 assumed that the, in his opinion, unrealistically high number had been caused by the fact that such models used to be very bloated compared to the real build of the animal. In 1980, Dale Alan Russell e.a. published a much lower weight of 14.8 tonnes by extrapolating from the diameter of the humerus and the thighbone. In 1985, the same researcher arrived at twenty-nine tonnes by extrapolating from the circumference of these bones. In 1985, Robert McNeill Alexander found a value of 46.6 tonnes inserting a toy model of the British Museum of Natural History into water.
More recent estimates based on models reconstructed from bone volume measurements, which take into account the extensive, weight-reducing airsac systems present in sauropods, and estimated muscle mass, are in the range of 23–40 tonnes (25–44 short tons). In 1988, G.S. Paul measured a volume of 36.585 m³ by inserting a specially constructed model into water. He estimated a weight of 31.5 tonnes, assuming a low density. In 1994/1995, Jan Peczkis calculated a weight of forty tonnes extrapolating from limb bone circumference. In 1995, Hans-Christian Gunga e.a. used a laser scan of the skeleton to build a virtual model from simple geometrical shapes, finding a volume of 74.42 m³ and concluding to a weight of 63 tonnes. In 2008, Gunga revised the volume, using more complex shapes, to 47.9 m³. Donald Henderson in 2004 employed a computer model that calculated a volume of 32.398 m³ and a weight of 25,789 kilogrammes. Newer methods use bone wall thickness.
However, HMN SII is not the largest specimen known (an assertion supported by its subadult status) but HMN XV2, represented by a fibula 13% larger than the corresponding material on HMN SII, which might have attained 26 metres (85 ft) in length.
Giraffatitan was a sauropod, one of a group of four-legged, plant-eating dinosaurs with long necks and tails and relatively small brains. It had a giraffe-like build, with long forelimbs and a very long neck. The skull had a tall arch anterior to the eyes, consisting of the bony nares, a number of other openings, and "spatulate" teeth (resembling chisels). The first toe on its front foot and the first three toes on its hind feet were clawed.
Traditionally, the distinctive high-crested skull was seen as a characteristic of the genus Brachiosaurus, to which Giraffatitan brancai was originally referred; however, it is possible that Brachiosaurus altithorax did not show this feature, since within the traditional Brachiosaurus material it is known only from Tanzanian specimens now assigned to Giraffatitan.
The placement of Giraffatitan nostrils has been the source of much debate with Witmer (2001) describing in Science the hypothesized position of the fleshy nostrils in Giraffatitan in as many as five possible locations. Comparing the nares of dinosaurs with those of modern animals, he found that all species have their external nostril openings in the front, and that sauropods like Giraffatitan did not have nostrils on top of their heads, but near their snouts. There has also been the hypothesis of various sauropods, such as Giraffatitan, possessing a trunk. The fact that there were no narrow-snouted sauropods (Giraffatitan included) tends to discredit such a hypothesis. Stronger evidence for the absence of a trunk is found in the teeth wear of Giraffatitan, which shows the kind of wear that would result from biting and tearing off of plant matter rather than purely grinding, which would be the result of having already ripped the leaves and branches off with its trunk.
In 1906, mining engineer Bernhard Wilhelm Sattler, while travelling, noticed an enormous bone jutting out of the ground at the Tendaguru (the "steep hill") near Lindi, in what was then German East Africa, today Tanzania. In early 1907, his superior Wilhelm Arning in Hannover received a report on the find. Arning again informed the Kommission für die landeskundliche Erforschung der Schutzgebiete, a commission in Berlin overviewing the geographical investigation of German protectorates. The German secretary of state of colonies, Berhard Dernburg, at the time visited German East Africa accompanied by the industrialist Heinrich Otto. Otto had invited the paleontologist Professor Eberhard Fraas to join him as a scientific advisor. In the summer of 1907, Fraas, already for some months travelling the colony, received a letter from Dr Hans Meyer in Leipzig urging him to investigate Sattler's discovery. On 30 August, Fraas arrived by steamer at the coastal town of Lindi. A five-day march brought him to the Tendaguru, where he could confirm that the bones were authentic and dinosaurian. Soon Sattler joined him with a team of native miners who uncovered two large sauropod skeletons which were transported to Germany. Ultimately, these would become the holotypes of the genera Tornieria and Janenschia.
Fraas had observed that the Tendaguru layers were exceptionally rich in fossils. After his return to Germany he tried to raise enough money for a major expedition. He managed to attract the interest of Professor Wilhelm von Branca, the head of the Geologisch-Paläontologische Institut und Museum der Königliche Friedrich-Wilhelm Universität zu Berlin. Von Branca considered it a matter of German national pride that such a project would succeed. He involved the well-connected pathologist David von Hansemann. Von Hansemann founded a Tendaguru Committee headed by Johann Albrecht, the duke of Mecklenburg. Soon it became fashionable to join this committee which counted a large number of prominent German industrialists and scientists among its members. Many of their rich friends donated considerable sums. To lead the expedition, von Branca sent out one of his curators, Werner Janensch, and one of his assistants, Edwin Hennig. Both men arrived in Dar es Salaam on 2 April 1909.
The expedition initially employed about 160 native porters as beasts of burden could not be used because of the danger posed by the tse tse fly. During four field seasons, of 1909, 1910, 1911 and 1912, about a hundred paleontological quarries were opened. Large amounts of fossil material were shipped to Germany. Soon it became evident that apart from Tornieria and Janenschia, other sauropods were present in the layers. One was the medium-sized Dicraeosaurus, a relatively common find. More rare was a gigantic form that far surpassed the others in magnitude and that is today known as Giraffatitan. The first quarry with Giraffatitan material was "Site D", located about one kilometre northeast of the Tendaguru Hill and opened on 21 June 1909. It contained a relatively complete skeleton of a medium-sized individual, lacking the hands, the neck, the back vertebrae and the skull. It included an articulated series of twenty-nine tail vertebrae. The other bones were found in close association on a surface of twenty-two square metres. "Site IX", located 1.4 kilometres northeast of the Tendaguru Hill, was opened on 17 August 1909. Among a assemblage of 150 disarticulated dinosaur bones, also two Giraffatitan thighbones were present. The next Giraffatitan quarry was "Site N", at nine hundred metres east of the Tendaguru Hill, excavated in September 1909. It held a single disarticulated skeleton containing a back vertebra, a tail vertebra, ribs, a scapula. a possible scapula, a humerus, two ischia and a number of unidentifiable bones.
The most important source of Giraffatitan fossils would be "Site S" at one kilometre southwest of the hill. Excavations started on 11 October 1909 and continued well into 1912. In 1909 limb and girdle elements were dug up. During 1910, a cut bank of the Kitukituki river was gradually deepened, removing a high overburden. To prevent the quarry walls from collapsing, they were covered by a high wooden framework. That year, first several ribs were uncovered and later part of the vertebral column. In October, close to some neck vertebrae a skull and lower jaws were discovered. From 5 June 1912 onwards more neck and trunk vertebrae were found. Initially it was thought that a single skeleton was being uncovered. Only much later Janensch realised that two skeletons had been present. Skelett SI was represented by a skull, six neck vertebrae and some back vertebrae. Skelett SII was larger but despite its size still a subadult individual. It included skull bones, a series of eleven neck and eleven back vertebrae, ribs, the left scapula, both coracoids, both forelimbs, the pubic bones and the right hindlimb. The sacrum and the tail had been lost to relatively recent erosion. The animal was found in an upright position with vertical limbs, which has been explained by its becoming mired in mud.
In early October 1909, "Site ab" was excavated, 1,2 kilometres northeast of the hill. Among disarticulated remains of many sauropods, also two Giraffatitan thighbones were collected. A gigantic possible humerus was too damaged to be salvaged. "Site cc", 2.9 kilometres northeast of the hill, contained a disarticulated Giraffatitan skeleton including neck vertebrae, a trunk vertebra, ribs, a scapula and a humerus. In 1910, another Giraffatitan quarry was opened, "Site Y" at 3.1 kilometres north of the Tendaguru Hill. It contained the skeleton of a medium-sized individual including a braincase, a series of eight neck vertebrae, a trunk vertebra, ribs, both scapulae, a coracoid, a left humerus and a left fibula.
The quarries listed above represent only the most important sites where Giraffatitan bones were found. In dozens of other Tendaguru locations finds were made of large single sauropod bones that were referred to the taxon in Janensch' publications but of which no field notes survive so that the precise circumstances of the discoveries are unknown. Partly this reflects a lack of systematic documentation by the expedition. Many documents were destroyed by an allied bombardment in 1943. Part of the fossils were then lost also. Nevertheless, most of the skeleton is known.
Giraffatitan brancai was first named and described by German paleontologist Werner Janensch in 1914 as Brachiosaurus brancai, based on several specimens recovered between 1909 and 1912 from the Tendaguru formation. It is known from five partial skeletons, including three skulls and numerous fragmentary remains including skull material, some limb bones, vertebrae and teeth. It lived from 145 to 150 million years ago, during the Kimmeridgian to Tithonian ages of the Late Jurassic period.
A famous specimen of Giraffatitan brancai mounted in the Berlin's Natural History Museum is one of the largest, and in fact the tallest, mounted skeletons in the world, as certified by the Guinness Book of Records. Beginning in 1909, Werner Janensch found many additional G. brancai specimens in Tanzania, Africa, including some nearly complete skeletons, and used them to create the composite mounted skeleton seen today.
In 1988, Gregory S. Paul noted that Brachiosaurus brancai (on which most popular depictions of Brachiosaurus were based) showed significant differences from the North American Brachiosaurus, especially in the proportions of its trunk vertebrae and in its more gracile build. Paul used these differences to create a subgenus he named Brachiosaurus (Giraffatitan) brancai. In 1991, George Olshevsky asserted that these differences were enough to place the African brachiosaurid in its own genus, simply Giraffatitan.
Further differences between the African and North American forms came to light with the description in 1998 of a North American Brachiosaurus skull. This skull, which had been found nearly a century earlier (it is the skull Marsh used on his early reconstructions of Brontosaurus), is identified as "Brachiosaurus sp." and may well belong to B. altithorax. The skull is closer to Camarasaurus in some features such as the form of the front teeth and more elongated and less hollowed-out on top than the distinctive short-snouted and high-crested skull of Giraffatitan.
The classification of Giraffatitan as a separate genus was not widely followed by other scientists at first, as it was not supported by a rigorous comparison of both species. However, a detailed comparison was published by Michael P. Taylor in 2009. Taylor showed that "Brachiosaurus" brancai differed from B. altithorax in almost every fossil bone that could be compared, in terms of both size, shape, and proportion, finding that the placement of Giraffatitan in a separate genus was valid. Taylor found evidence of a sister relationship between Giraffatitan and Brachiosaurus, although his analysis omitted other Brachiosaurids. A more recent study on Titanosauriform sauropods by D'Emic (2012) places Giraffatitan as sister to a clade containing Brachiosaurus and a tritomy of Abydosaurus, Cedarosaurus, and Venenosaurus as shown below:
The nostrils of Giraffatitan, like the huge corresponding nasal openings in its skull, were long thought to be located on the top of the head. In past decades, scientists theorized that the animal used its nostrils like a snorkel, spending most of its time submerged in water in order to support its great mass. The current consensus view, however, is that Giraffatitan was a fully terrestrial animal. Studies have demonstrated that water pressure would have prevented the animal from breathing effectively while submerged and that its feet were too narrow for efficient aquatic use. Furthermore, new studies by Lawrence Witmer (2001) show that, while the nasal openings in the skull were placed high above the eyes, the nostrils would still have been close to the tip of the snout (a study which also lends support to the idea that the tall "crests" of brachiosaurs supported some sort of fleshy resonating chamber).
Giraffatitan's brain measured about 300 cubic centimetres, which, like those of other sauropods, was small compared to its massive body size. A 2009 study calculated its Encephalization Quotient (a rough estimate of possible intelligence) at a low 0.62 or 0.79, depending on the size estimate used. Like other sauropods, Giraffatitan has a sacral enlargement above the hip which some older sources misleadingly referred to as a "second brain". However, glycogen bodies are a more likely explanation.
If Giraffatitan was endothermic (warm-blooded), it would have taken an estimated ten years to reach full size, if it were instead poikilothermic (cold-blooded), then it would have required over 100 years to reach full size. As a warm-blooded animal, the daily energy demands of Giraffatitan would have been enormous; it would probably have needed to eat more than ~182 kg (400 lb) of food per day. If Giraffatitan was fully cold-blooded or was a passive bulk endotherm, it would have needed far less food to meet its daily energy needs. Some scientists have proposed that large dinosaurs like Giraffatitan were gigantotherms. Internal organs of these giant sauropods were probably enormous.
The Tendaguru ecosystem primarily consisted of three types of environment: shallow, lagoon-like marine environments, tidal flats and low coastal environments; and vegetated inland environments. The marine environment existed above the fair weather wave base and behind siliciclastic and ooid barriers. It appeared to have had little change in salinity levels and experienced tides and storms. The coastal environments consisted of brackish coastal lakes, ponds and pools. These environments had little vegetation and were probably visited by herbivorous dinosaurs mostly during droughts. The well vegetated inlands were dominated by conifers. Overall, the Late Jurassic Tendaguru climate was subtropical to tropical with seasonal rains and pronounced dry periods. During the Early Cretaceous, the Tendaguru became more humid. The Tendaguru Beds are similar to the Morrison Formation of North America except in its marine interbeds.
Giraffatitan would have coexisted with fellow sauropods like Dicraeosaurus hansemanni and D. sattleri, Janenschia africana, Tendaguria tanzaniensis and Tornieria africanus; ornithischians like Dysalotosaurus lettowvorbecki and Kentrosaurus aethiopicus; the theropods "Allosaurus" tendagurensis, "Ceratosaurus" roechlingi, "Ceratosaurus" ingens, Elaphrosaurus bambergi, Veterupristisaurus milneri and Ostafrikasaurus crassiserratus; and the pterosaur Tendaguripterus recki. Other organisms that inhabited the Tendaguru included corals, echinoderms, cephalopods, bivalves, gastropods, decapods, sharks, neopterygian fish, crocodilians and small mammals like Brancatherulum tendagurensis.
Media related to Giraffatitan at Wikimedia Commons
Media related to Tendaguru Formation at Wikimedia Commons
Paleontology or palaeontology is the study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils. This includes the study of body fossils, tracks (ichnites), burrows, cast-off parts, fossilised feces (coprolites), palynomorphs and chemical residues. Because humans have encountered fossils for millennia, paleontology has a long history both before and after becoming formalized as a science. This article records significant discoveries and events related to paleontology that occurred or were published in the year 2003.Abydosaurus
Abydosaurus (meaning "Abydos lizard") is a genus of brachiosaurid sauropod dinosaur known from skull and postcranial material found in upper Lower Cretaceous rocks of northeastern Utah, United States.Australodocus
Australodocus (meaning "southern beam" from the Latin australis "southern" and the Greek dokos/δοκоς "beam") is a genus of sauropod dinosaur that lived during the Late Jurassic period, around 150 million years ago, in what is now Tanzania. Though initially considered a diplodocid, recent analyses suggest it may instead be a titanosauriform.Brachiosauridae
The Brachiosauridae ("arm lizards", from Greek brachion (βραχίων) = "arm" and sauros = "lizard") are a family or clade of herbivorous, quadrupedal sauropod dinosaurs. Brachiosaurids had long necks that enabled them to access the leaves of tall trees that other sauropods would have been unable to reach. In addition, they possessed thick spoon-shaped teeth which helped them to consume tough plants more efficiently than other sauropods. They have also been characterized by a few unique traits or synapomorphies; dorsal vertebrae with 'rod-like' transverse processes and an ischium with an abbreviated pubic peduncle.Brachiosaurus is one of the best-known members of the Brachiosauridae, and was once thought to be the largest land animal to ever live. Brachiosaurids thrived in the regions which are now North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. They first appear in the fossil record in the Late Jurassic Period and disappear in the late Early Cretaceous Period. The broad distribution of Brachiosauridae in both northern and southern continents suggests that the group originated prior to the breakup of Pangaea. In the Early Cretaceous the distribution of the group is dramatically reduced. It is still unclear whether this reduction is due to local extinctions or to the limited nature of the Early Cretaceous fossil record.Brachiosauridae has been defined as all titanosauriforms that are more closely related to Brachiosaurus than to Saltasaurus. It is one of the three main groups of the clade Titanosauriformes, which also includes the Euhelopodidae and the Titanosauria.Brachiosaurus
Brachiosaurus () is a genus of sauropod dinosaur that lived in North America during the Late Jurassic, about 154–153 million years ago. It was first described by American paleontologist Elmer S. Riggs in 1903 from fossils found in the Colorado River valley in western Colorado, United States. Riggs named the dinosaur Brachiosaurus altithorax; the generic name is Greek for "arm lizard", in reference to its proportionately long arms, and the specific name means "deep chest". Brachiosaurus is estimated to have been between 18 and 21 meters (59 and 69 ft) long; weight estimates range from 28.3 to 58 metric tons (31.2 and 64 short tons). It had a disproportionately long neck, small skull, and large overall size, all of which are typical for sauropods. Atypically, Brachiosaurus had longer forelimbs than hindlimbs, which resulted in a steeply inclined trunk, and a proportionally shorter tail.
Brachiosaurus is the namesake genus of the family Brachiosauridae, which includes a handful of other similar sauropods. Most popular depictions of Brachiosaurus are in fact based on Giraffatitan, a genus of brachiosaurid dinosaur from the Tendaguru Formation of Tanzania. Giraffatitan was originally described by German paleontologist Werner Janensch in 1914 as a species of Brachiosaurus, B. brancai, but moved to its own genus in 2009. Three other species of Brachiosaurus have been named based on fossils found in Africa and Europe; two are no longer considered valid, and a third has become a separate genus, Lusotitan.
The type specimen of B. altithorax is still the most complete specimen, and only a few other specimens are thought to belong to the genus, making it one of the rarer sauropods of the Morrison Formation. It is regarded as a high browser, possibly cropping or nipping vegetation as high as 9 meters (30 ft) off the ground. Unlike other sauropods, it was unsuited for rearing on its hindlimbs. It has been used as an example of a dinosaur that was most likely ectothermic because of its large size and the corresponding need for sufficient forage, but more recent research suggests it was warm-blooded. Among the most iconic and initially thought to be one of the largest dinosaurs, Brachiosaurus has appeared in popular culture, notably in the 1993 film Jurassic Park.Dicraeosaurus
Dicraeosaurus (Gr. δικραιος, dikraios "bifurcated, double-headed" + Gr. σαυρος, sauros "lizard") is a genus of small diplodocoid sauropod dinosaur that lived in what is now Tanzania during the late Jurassic. It was named for the spines on the back of the neck. The first fossil was described by paleontologist Werner Janensch in 1914.Europasaurus
Europasaurus is a basal macronarian sauropod, a form of quadrupedal herbivorous dinosaur. It lived during the Late Jurassic (middle Kimmeridgian, about 154 million years ago) of northern Germany, and has been identified as an example of insular dwarfism resulting from the isolation of a sauropod population on an island within the Lower Saxony basin.Gravisauria
Gravisauria is a clade of sauropod dinosaurs consisting of some genera, Vulcanodontidae and Eusauropoda.List of African dinosaurs
This is a list of dinosaurs whose remains have been recovered from Africa. Africa has a rich fossil record, but it is patchy and incomplete. It is rich in Triassic and Early Jurassic dinosaurs. African dinosaurs from these time periods include Coelophysis, Dracovenator, Melanorosaurus, Massospondylus, Euskelosaurus, Heterodontosaurus, Abrictosaurus, and Lesothosaurus. In the Middle Jurassic, the sauropods Atlasaurus, Chebsaurus, Jobaria, and Spinophorosaurus, flourished, as well as the theropod Afrovenator. The Late Jurassic is well represented in Africa, mainly thanks to the spectacular Tendaguru Formation. Veterupristisaurus, Ostafrikasaurus, Elaphrosaurus, Giraffatitan, Dicraeosaurus, Janenschia, Tornieria, Tendaguria, Kentrosaurus, and Dysalotosaurus are among the dinosaurs whose remains have been recovered from Tendaguru. This fauna seems to show strong similarities to that of the Morrison Formation in the United States and the Lourinha Formation in Portugal. For example, similar theropods, ornithopods and sauropods have been found in both the Tendaguru and the Morrison. This has important biogeographical implications.
The Early Cretaceous in Africa is known primarily from the northern part of the continent, particularly Niger. Suchomimus, Elrhazosaurus, Rebbachisaurus, Nigersaurus, Kryptops, Nqwebasaurus, and Paranthodon are some of the Early Cretaceous dinosaurs known from Africa. The Early Cretaceous was an important time for the dinosaurs of Africa because it was when Africa finally separated from South America, forming the South Atlantic Ocean. This was an important event because now the dinosaurs of Africa started developing endemism because of isolation.
The Late Cretaceous of Africa is known mainly from North Africa. During the early part of the Late Cretaceous, North Africa was home to a rich dinosaur fauna. It includes Spinosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, Rugops, Bahariasaurus, Deltadromeus, Paralititan, Aegyptosaurus, and Ouranosaurus.List of dinosaur genera
This list of dinosaurs is a comprehensive listing of all genera that have ever been included in the superorder Dinosauria, excluding class Aves (birds, both living and those known only from fossils) and purely vernacular terms.
The list includes all commonly accepted genera, but also genera that are now considered invalid, doubtful (nomen dubium), or were not formally published (nomen nudum), as well as junior synonyms of more established names, and genera that are no longer considered dinosaurs. Many listed names have been reclassified as everything from birds to crocodilians to petrified wood. The list contains 1559 names, of which approximately 1192 are considered either valid dinosaur genera or nomina dubia.Natural History Museum, Berlin
The Natural History Museum (in German: Museum für Naturkunde) is a natural history museum located in Berlin, Germany. It exhibits a vast range of specimens from various segments of natural history and in such domain it is one of three major museums in Germany alongside Naturmuseum Senckenberg in Frankfurt and Museum Koenig in Bonn.
The museum houses more than 30 million zoological, paleontological, and mineralogical specimens, including more than ten thousand type specimens. It is famous for two exhibits: the largest mounted dinosaur in the world (a Giraffatitan skeleton), and a well-preserved specimen of the earliest known bird, Archaeopteryx. The museum's mineral collections date back to the Prussian Academy of Sciences of 1700. Important historic zoological specimens include those recovered by the German deep-sea Valdiva expedition (1898–99), the German Southpolar Expedition (1901–03), and the German Sunda Expedition (1929–31). Expeditions to fossil beds in Tendaguru in former Deutsch Ostafrika (today Tanzania) unearthed rich paleontological treasures. The collections are so extensive that less than 1 in 5000 specimens is exhibited, and they attract researchers from around the world. Additional exhibits include a mineral collection representing 75% of the minerals in the world, a large meteor collection, the largest piece of amber in the world; exhibits of the now-extinct quagga, huia, and tasmanian tiger, and "Bobby" the gorilla, a Berlin Zoo celebrity from the 1920s and 1930s.
In November 2018 the German government and the city of Berlin decided to expand and improve the building for more than 600 million €.Padillasaurus
Padillasaurus is an extinct genus of titanosauriform sauropod known from the Early Cretaceous (Barremian stage) Paja Formation in Colombia. It contains a single species, Padillasaurus leivaensis, known only from a single partial axial skeleton. Initially described as a brachiosaurid, it was considered to be the first South American brachiosaurid ever discovered and named. Before its discovery, the only known brachiosaurid material on the continent was very fragmentary and from the Jurassic period. However, a more recent study finds it to be a basal somphospondylan.Ruyangosaurus
Ruyangosaurus (Ruyang County lizard) is a genus of titanosauriform sauropod dinosaur recovered from the Early Cretaceous Haoling Formation of China. The type species is R. giganteus, described in 2009 by Lü Junchang et al. Along with Huanghetitan and Daxiatitan, Ruyangosaurus is among the largest dinosaurs discovered in Cretaceous Asia.Sauroposeidon
Sauroposeidon ( SOR-o-po-SY-dən; meaning "lizard earthquake god", after the Greek god Poseidon) is a genus of sauropod dinosaur known from several incomplete specimens including a bone bed and fossilized trackways that have been found in the American states of Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Texas. The fossils were found in rocks dating from near the end of the Early Cretaceous (Aptian–early Albian), a time when sauropod diversity in North America had greatly diminished. It was the last known North American sauropod prior to an absence of the group on the continent of roughly 40 million years that ended with the appearance of Alamosaurus during the Maastrichtian.
While the holotype remains were initially discovered in 1994, due to their unexpected age and unusual size they were initially misclassified as pieces of petrified wood. A more detailed analysis in 1999 revealed their true nature which resulted in a minor media frenzy, and formal publication of the find the following year.Paleoecological analysis indicates that Sauroposeidon lived on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, in a river delta. Extrapolations based on the more completely known Brachiosaurus indicate that the head of Sauroposeidon could reach 17–18 m (56–59 ft) in height with its neck extended, which would make it the tallest known dinosaur. With an estimated length of 27–34 m (89–112 ft) and a mass of 40–60 t (44–66 short tons), it also ranks among the longest and heaviest. However, this animal may not be as closely related to Brachiosaurus as previously thought, so these estimates may be inaccurate.
While initially described as a brachiosaurid closely related to Brachiosaurus and Giraffatitan, the discovery of additional remains in the Cloverly Formation of Wyoming suggested that it was in fact more closely related to the titanosaurs, in the group Somphospondyli. Analysis of these remains and comparison with others from Texas supported this conclusion, and demonstrated that the more completely known sauropods from the Twin Mountains Formation (including a partial skull and fossil trackways) previously named Paluxysaurus jonesi also belonged to Sauroposeidon. It is the state dinosaur of Texas.Tambatitanis
Tambatitanis is an extinct genus of titanosauriform dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous (probably early Albian) of Japan. It is known from a single type species, Tambatitanis amicitiae. It was probably around 14 meters long and its mass was estimated at some 4 tonnes. It was a basal titanosauriform and possibly belonged to the Euhelopodidae.Tendaguru Formation
The Tendaguru Formation, or Tendaguru Beds are a highly fossiliferous formation and Lagerstätte in southeastern Tanzania. The formation represents the oldest sedimentary unit of the Mandawa Basin, overlying Neoproterozoic basement, separating by a long hiatus and unconformity. The formation reaches a total sedimentary thickness of more than 110 metres (360 ft). The formation ranges in age from the late Middle Jurassic to the early Early Cretaceous, Oxfordian to Hauterivian stages, with the base of the formation possibly extending into the Callovian.
The Tendaguru Formation is subdivided into six members; from oldest to youngest Lower Dinosaur Member, the Nerinella Member, the Middle Dinosaur Member, Indotrigonia africana Member, the Upper Dinosaur Member, and the Rutitrigonia bornhardti-schwarzi Member. The succession comprises a sequence of sandstones, shales, siltstones, conglomerates with minor oolitic limestones, deposited in an overall shallow marine to coastal plain environment, characterized by tidal, fluvial and lacustrine influence with a tsunami deposit occurring in the Indotrigonia africana Member. The climate of the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous was semi-arid with seasonal rainfall and the eustatic sea level was rising in the Late Jurassic from low levels in the Middle Jurassic. Paleogeographical reconstructions show the Tendaguru area was located in the subtropical southern hemisphere during the Late Jurassic.
The Tendaguru Formation is considered the richest Late Jurassic strata in Africa. The formation has provided a wealth of fossils of different groups; early mammaliaforms, several genera of dinosaurs, crocodyliforms, amphibians, fish, invertebrates and flora. More than 250 tonnes (250 long tons; 280 short tons) of material was shipped to Germany during early excavations in the early twentieth century. The faunal assemblage of the Tendaguru is similar to the Morrison Formation of the central-western United States, with an additional marine interbed fauna not present in the Morrison.
The dinosaur fauna found in the formation is similar to that of other highly fossiliferous stratigraphic units of the Late Jurassic; among others the Kimmeridge and Oxford Clays of England, the Sables de Glos, Argiles d'Octeville, Marnes de Bléville of France, the Alcobaça, Guimarota and Lourinhã Formations of Portugal, the Villar del Arzobispo Formation of Spain, the Shishugou, Kalazha and Shangshaximiao Formations in China, the Toqui Formation of Chile and Cañadón Calcáreo Formation of Argentina and the Morrison Formation, with the presence of dinosaurs with similar counterparts, e.g., Brachiosaurus and Stegosaurus in the Morrison, and Giraffatitan and Kentrosaurus in the Tendaguru.Tornieria
Tornieria ("for Tornier") is a genus of diplodocid sauropod dinosaur from Late Jurassic of Tanzania. It has a convoluted taxonomic history.Werner Janensch
Werner Ernst Martin Janensch (Herzberg (Elster), 11 November 1878 – Berlin, 20 October 1969) was a German paleontologist and geologist.
In addition to Friedrich von Huene, Janensch was probably Germany's most important dinosaur specialist from the early and middle twentieth century. His most famous and significant contributions stemmed from the expedition undertaken to the Tendaguru Beds in what is now Tanzania. As leader of an expedition (together with Edwin Hennig) set up by the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, where he worked as a curator, Janensch helped uncover an enormous quantity of fossils of late Jurassic period dinosaurs, including several complete Brachiosaurus skeletons, then the largest animal ever known. During his long subsequent career (he worked in Berlin from 1914 to 1961), Janensch named several new dinosaur taxa including Dicraeosaurus (1914) and Elaphrosaurus (1920). Janensch's Brachiosaurus were later determined to belong to a distinct, related genus, Giraffatitan.
His work at Tendaguru earned him several awards. The Prussian Academy of Sciences honored him with the silver Leibniz Medal in 1911. A year later, he was appointed Professor in geology and paleontology at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Berlin. In 1913, he became a member, and in 1958 an honorary member, of the Paläontologische Gesellschaft.Xianshanosaurus
Xianshanosaurus is a genus of sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian-Albian) of the Ruyang Basin in Henan Province, China. It was described in 2009 by a team of Chinese paleontologists. The type species is X. shijiagouensis.