The “Headless” Langobardisaurus and the DGS Method

Langobardisaurus was just discussed less than a week ago with regard to Pteromimus. Langobardisaurus was a sister to other long-necked tritosaurs, like Tanytrachelos and Tanystropheus, and the shorter necked Cosesaurus.

Back in the day (the mid 1990s), when I was still tracing 8x10s with a pen on acetate (instead of a digital mouse after scanning) Dr. Silvio Renesto was kind enough to send  a photo of his recently discovered Langobardisaurus pandolfi (Renesto 1994). Apparently it was missing a neck and skull (Fig. 1) but this taxon was of particular interest due to its elongated, pterosaur-like, tanystropheus-like pedal digit 5.

Langobardisaurus pandolfi

Figure 1. Langobardisaurus pandolfi. The apparently "headless" langobardisaur. The neck and skull are in black, discovered by tracing the elements without seeing the specimen. To the right is a restoration of the skull.

The Thrill of Discovery
As I continued tracing the specimen, I realized there were some extra parts present behind the dorsal ribs. These turned out to be the apparently “missing” neck and skull. Unfortunately much of the skull was hidden beneath the vertebrae, so the details were beyond recovery, but the general outline and anterior jaws were clear. The orbit was much larger than originally anticipated and the rostrum much smaller with more derived teeth.

That was One of my First Contributions to Paleontology
That discovery was later supported by the discovery of Langobardisaurus tonneloi (Muscio 1997), which clearly exposed a very similar skull and neck. I have been employing the DGS (digital graphic segregation) method ever since much to the chagrin of my colleagues. I have been ignored and vilified ever since in print and in private for announcing discoveries based on interpreting photograph evidence. Well, this promising start is how it all began. It’s been an uphill struggle ever since.

As always, I encourage readers to see specimens, make observations and come to your own conclusions. Test. Test. And test again.

Evidence and support in the form of nexus, pdf and jpeg files will be sent to all who request additional data.

Muscio G 1997. Preliminary note on a specimen of Prolacertiformes (Reptilia) from the Norian (Late Triassic) of Preone (Udine, north-eastern Italy). Gortania – Atti del Museo Friulano di Storia Naturale 18:33-40
Renesto S 1994. A new prolacertiform reptile from the Late Triassic of Northern Italy. Rivista di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia 100(2): 285-306.
Renesto S and Dalla Vecchia FM 2000. The unusual dentition and feeding habits of the Prolacertiform reptile Langobardisaurus (Late Triassic, Northern Italy). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 20: 3. 622-627.


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