EINSTEIN - THE APATOSAURUS WITH A FOSSILIZED BRAIN
The world has a new Einstein, albeit with a much smaller brain. The Einstein in question here is an Apatosaurus skeleton. This specimen received its counter intuitive nickname after it was realized that the braincase was preserved along with the rest of the skeleton. Sauropods, the group to which Apatosaurus belongs, are rarely discovered with intact and uncrushed braincases, making this find all the more important and interesting.
Einstein was discovered in 2004, and over the course of the next three years, we slowly stripped away the surrounding rock, exposing not only the braincase, but also virtually the entire skeleton. Einstein is approximately 80% complete, with a set of hips and shoulders, most of the spine and tail, a humerus, and most of the hind limbs. In size, it is approximately equal in comparison to the mounted specimen at the American Museum of Natural History, but exceedingly more complete. It is also the first Apatosaurus skeleton found in direct association with its skull.
The braincase that makes Einstein so important measures about 7 inches. When compared with the rest of the 71-foot long skeleton, it’s lucky that it was found at all. While sauropod fossils are common, Apatosauri are not, so mostly complete specimens like Einstein are very rare. Even more rare is material from the head of the animal. This makes Einstein particularly important to science, as there is more to learn from the head than the rest of the body combined. Recent work on sauropods has involved either casting or taking a CAT scan of the braincase, so as to determine the shape of the animal’s brain when it was alive. This brain morphology can tell scientists about how the animal lived, how it grew, and which other species of sauropod it was most closely related to.
Wherever Einstein eventually finds a home, it is certain that he will be one of a kind.
Einstein is the first Dana Quarry dinosaur that was reconstructed in a freestanding life like pose. In the summer of 2008, Einstein made his public debut at the Abu-Dhabi International Airport where his spectacular 71-foot long skeleton went on exhibit. The unveiling cause a media event, and for three months Einstein was a big attraction, amazing and thrilling thousand of visitors at the airport, many had never seen an actual dinosaur before in their lives.