Do you like large dinosaurs? Then the Maraapunisaurus, previously known as Amphicoelias fragillimus, is just the creature to know about. Stuck between the classification of a Rebbachisaurid and a Diplodocus, there have been heated debates on everything about this dinosaur, from its name, size, classification, and even bone structure! Paleontologists like Paul, Carpenter, Cope, and others have theorized about the Amphicoelias. Unfortunately, the only bone structure was found in the Morrison Formation in Colorado from where the bones were lost to time. As a result, only initial diagrams and drawings remain to help scientists understand the life and times of this animal.
Our pre-historic world was full of unique animals and birds, and even dinosaurs! You can read all about this type of species here or check out other wonderful pre-historic dinosaurs like the Tupuxuara and Caviramus.
The word Maraapunisaurus is pronounced as 'Ma-rah-pu-ne-sore-us'.
Maraapunisaurus (Amphicoelias fragillimus) is a genus of a sauropod dinosaur, which was one of the more common dinosaur species at the time.
Maraapunisaurus (Amphicoelias fragillimus) roamed the earth in the late Jurassic period, as deduced by Carpenter, approximately 145.5 million years ago.
The Jurassic period was one of the oldest geological periods, immediately followed by the Triassic period. Therefore, it is assumed that this animal became extinct somewhere after the Triassic period.
Maraapunisaurus (Amphicoelias fragillimus) is a genus of sauropod dinosaurs that lived in the Morrison Formation (western North America) during the Late Jurassic period. Only one partial bone structure recovered in all its time of excavation.
The location where this Rebbachisaurid/Diplodocid is thought to have lived in areas near the Morrison Formation, in Colorado, USA. Scientists estimate that the Morrison Formation did not have grass or tall trees and represented the modern-day savanna in terms of description. Rather, there would be plains, with gallery-like forests where this vertebra could feed during the night and keep cool during the day.
Since only one partial fossil has been described for this animal, it is difficult to assume it would travel in groups. Therefore, due to the lack of similar fossils near the Colorado site, one can assume that this Diplodocid, later Rebbachisauridae, lived and traveled alone.
It is impossible to describe the lifespan of this enormous dinosaur due to a lack of description, lost bone structures, no description of their life and times in Colorado, and other factors.
There is very little information on this lost creature, though it is thought that they reproduced like alligators and laid eggs.
In terms of description, its long spine leads us to believe that it had a long neck, short legs, and a broad, thickly built body. This Rebbachisaurid is also thought to have had a tail to go with its immense body. Much like other dinosaurs, this rebbachisaurid could have had shades of green, brown, and gray as its skin color. Though as reptiles, it is thought that they would have had scales. Some scientists have also assumed that they might have had wrinkled, moist skin to better suit their dry savanna-like habitat.
Since no complete skeleton has ever been discovered or described by those who discovered it, there is no accurate count of the bones of the Maraapunisaurus. However, E.D. Cope had a huge role to play in its modern-day reconstruction. Cope had drawn a detailed diagram of this creature's spine, including the neural arch, which helped further successors like Carpenter and others create a reconstruction.
Initially called the Amphicoelias fragillimus, this dinosaur had no remnants of any vocal cords. Therefore, it is difficult to predict how it communicated, if at all. It is unlikely that they would have needed alarm calls because they were such large animals, but they would have needed to communicate for breeding and mating.
Since there have been no full fossils found for the Maraapunisaurus fragillimus in present-day geology, scientists like Carpenter, Cope, and Basal disagreed on the size of the vertebra. However, the closest range is 115–131 ft (35–40 m). This makes this rebbachisaurid one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered in terms of size.
According to the description of this type of species, brought together by lost fossils, holotype fossils, and their famous neural arch, the Maraapunisaurus was a large sauropod dinosaur. Paleontologists like Carpenter and Basal assumed that this specimen could not move very fast with a size as big as theirs.
According to reconstructed vertebrae, preserved fossils, and the occasional museum specimen, there have been estimates that the Maraapunisaurus weighed a whopping 176370-264555 lb (80000-120000 kg). This is in proportion to the animal and its impressive height, and makes them one of the heaviest dinosaurs around!
Though the Museum of Natural History has many bones of this new species, there are no sex-specific names for the Maraapunisaurus fragillimus. Throughout history, there has been a lot of debate on the genus of this sauropod. Some insist that it is a Diplodocus, whereas others maintain that it is a Rebbachisaurid. Since both the Diplodocus and the Rebbachisaurid are herbivores, there has been no final decision.
Though this species is very closely related to many present-day animals, especially through vertebrae, scientists did not give the babies of this species any name. There have been no eggs or young fossils discovered, so not much can be said about the young of this species.
Conifers, which were the dominating plant when these big sauropods lived, were most likely their main food source. Gingkos, cycads, seed ferns, horsetails, and club mosses could have been secondary food sources. The diet of the majority of dinosaurs, including sauropods, is unknown.
According to the preserved and reconstructed skeletons, scientists could deduce that this specimen had a history of being a herbivore. Therefore, as herbivores, they are not thought to be aggressive at all.
Based on the fossils, bone, and neural arch discovered by scientists, estimates exist which put this species as one of the largest specimens of dinosaurs ever discovered.
Oramel William Lucas first discovered the holotype of this dinosaur. One of the biggest problems was the Maraapunisaurus fragillimus reconstruction, which was extremely difficult due to a fragile fossil that would break at the slightest mishandling. It was only much later that E.D. Cope came up with a unique resin technique to preserve the bones.
According to many specimens of this type of species, they primarily eat plants. Therefore, they had no reason to hunt.
Since specimens and fossils of this sauropod species have been found in various vegetated areas, it can be assumed that this huge vertebra lived in plains and mountains alike, as long as there was enough food for it to eat. Since it had large legs and an impressive length, crossing difficult terrains to get food must not have been an issue for this species.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Also, learn more about some other creatures from our Heterodontosaurus facts, or Ichthyovenator facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Maraapunisaurus coloring pages.
Second image by Paleo Equii.