Albertonectes, the longest elasmosaur – reconstructed for the first time

A recent paper by Kubo et al. (2012) described the longest known elasmosaur (plesiosauria, sauropterygia, enaliosauria) with the largest number of neck vertebrae (76). No reconstruction of Albertonectes was published, so here is one (Fig. 1) based on their tracings of the insitu specimen. Some of the finger and toe bones were scattered. Whether they were replaced exactly as in life cannot be determined from the data.

Several aspects of this reconstruction are interesting
The shoulder dorsals were taller than the pelvic dorsals. Five ribs support (or point to) the ilium, apparently all along the leading edge if the ilium curled posteriorly. The neck is three times the length of the torso. The tip of the tail tipped down, perhaps to form a small rudder.

Figure 1. Click to enlarge. Albertonectes reconstructed for the first time. This 11 m  (37') elasmosaur is the longest thus far recorded. With such a large neck, one wonders whether this reptile developed thrust with this sea snake-like neck, but this is countered by the flat articulations and short processes that restrict such movement. The neck was relatively stiff, which is why it broke into sections upon reaching the sea floor.

Figure 1. Click to enlarge. Albertonectes reconstructed for the first time. This 11 m  (37′) elasmosaur is the longest thus far recorded. With such a large neck, one wonders whether this reptile developed thrust with this sea snake-like neck, but this is countered by the flat articulations and short processes that restrict such movement. The neck was relatively stiff, which is why it broke into sections upon reaching the sea floor.

References
Kubo T, Mitchell MT and Henderson DM 2012. Albertonectes vanderveldei, a new elasmosaur (Reptilia, Sauropterygia) from the Upper Cretaceous of Alberta. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32 (3): 557-572. DOI:10.1080/02724634.2012.658124.

2 thoughts on “Albertonectes, the longest elasmosaur – reconstructed for the first time

  1. Based on your picture – for some reason, I count at best 74 neck vertabrae at best – which includes your grayed out missing vertabrae (which I assume is hypothesized?). I thought they said there were 76 vertabrae beating out elasmosaurus’ 72 vertabrae. There are 4 grayed out vertabrae pieces in front neck – how do we know that it’s not 68 vertabrae which makes it less than the 72 elasmosaurs has. And how they came up with 76 vertabrae based on your reconstructed pic – I am confused? If you can clarify – I would greatly appreciate it.

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