The sauropod that lent its name to this group, Dicraosaurus had a large head and a short and wide neck, unlike most other diplodocoids. It was only about 12 meters long and only a little less than 3 meters tall, and is known from the remains of two species. It had spines on its vertebrae that was Y shaped like a fork, leading to its name. They were attachment points for muscles. It lived in the Kimmeridgian to Tithonian ages of the Late Jurassic, about 155 to 150 million years ago. It was found in Tendaguru Hill in Tanzania and lived alongside Giraffatitan and Kentrosaurus, which both had distinctivley different sizes from Dicraeosaurus, indicating that all three didn’t compete very much and fed on different vegetation heights.
Dicraeosaurus wasn’t your typical sauropod of the late Jurassic
period: this medium-sized (“only” 10 tons or so) plant eater had an
unusually short neck and tail, and most important, a series of
double-pronged bones that jutted out from the front part of its
Clearly, Dicraeosaurus had prominent spines along
its neck and upper back, or possibly even a sail, which would have
helped to regulate its body temperature (the latter possibility is less
likely, since numerous sauropods besides Dicraeosaurus would have
evolved sails if these had been of any adaptive value). You might not be
surprised to learn that Dicraeosaurus was closely related to Amargasaurus, an unusually spiny-backed sauropod from South America.
Dicraeosaurus (hansemanni, sattleri )
Name means: Bifurcated/Double-forked lizard
Period: Late Jurassic (155-150 MYA)
Length: 41 ft (12 M)
Weight: 10 tons
This diplodocoid dinosaur, whose first fossil was discovered by Werner Janensch in 1914, actually possesses characteristics that differ from typical diplodocids. The first difference to be noted is the lack of a whiplike tail, a chief characteristic of diplodocids.
Dicraeosaurus also had a relatively short neck that consisted of 12 vertebrae. These vertebrae had large, Y-shaped spines growing from them, hence this dinosaur’s name. Due to the shortness of Diceaeosaurus’ neck, it is believed that this sauropod dined on low lying vegetation. It is thought that the maximum height of grazing was 9.8 ft (3 M).
Dicraeosaurus fossils have been discovered in Tendagaru Hill in Tanzania, which shows that this dinosaur preferred woodland areas. Dinosaurs like Kentrosaurus and Giraffatitan have also been discovered at this location, but it is believed that they co-existed peacefully due to differing browsing heights.
This sauropod is closely related to Armagasaurus (a sauropod that I will cover in the future).
(Image taken from wikidino.com. I was unable to find a restoration without a sail-like structure, but I personally like the ones will sails better.)