Giant hadrosaurs – Shantungosaurus

Another short post I’m afraid, more coming, honetly! This time out we have the absolutely giant hadrosaur Shantungosaurus.Here we have a life reconstruction that stands outside the Geological Museum of China in Beijing with me acting as a scale. As you can see, it’s massive and yet as far as I can tell quite a bit smaller than the supposed 17 m in length that this genus could reach.

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Although known from only incomplete skeletons, there is enough of Shantungosaurus from the various specimens known to accuraely reconstruct its anatomy pretty accurately and as hadrosaurs are pretty conservative (head crests aside) one would expect to be able to scale them pretty accurately to judge the size of even a very incomplete specimen. Nevertheless, that figure of 17 m is probably a bit of an exaggeration though perhaps not much of one – the musuem also holds part of a sacrum and that is enormous in its own right. Perhaps understandably we are rather fixated on sauropods or theropods when it comes to giants, but it is well worth remembering the enormous sizes of some of the ornithischians. Even if we clipped off a fem meters in length this would porbably remain one of the longest and heaviest ornithischians – it’s not all spinosaurs and diplodocoids.

9 Responses to “Giant hadrosaurs – Shantungosaurus”


  1. 1 Michael Ogden Erickson 22/07/2009 at 12:54 am

    If Shantungosaurus had the diplodocid-like whiplash tail of Anatotitan and Saurolophus, that probably would have added some legnth: the whiplash of Anaotitan is approxamately 3 meters long!

    • 2 David Hone 22/07/2009 at 8:20 pm

      What is this “whiplash tail”? I’ve never heard of anyhting like this and can’t find any reference to it in the literature. I’ve seen a complete Saurolophus recently and it had nothing like you describe, what is your source for this?

      • 3 Matt Martyniuk 22/07/2009 at 11:05 pm

        Tracy Ford has been saying this is present in some undescribed Anatotitan fossil for a while now, and has posted skeletals showing it on DinoForum. He says they preserve a big honkin’ dewlap, too. So far nothing in the lit confirms this, as far as I know.

      • 4 Michael Ogden Erickson 23/07/2009 at 5:11 am

        It’s not in the lterature, but Tracy Ford can tell you about it better than I can.

      • 5 Michael Ogden Erickson 23/07/2009 at 5:16 am

        Oh yeah, I forgot – Tracy Ford has told me via personal communication that Phil Currie is working on a Saurolophus specimen that has the whiplash tail.

  2. 6 Zach Miller 22/07/2009 at 7:17 am

    Geezus, that’s enormous!

  3. 7 Adam Pritchard 22/07/2009 at 11:50 am

    “Whiplash tail”? Hmmmmm…I’d never really noticed that some hadrosaurines had that! Goes to show how underappreciated they are.

    Are there any good resources on Shantungosaurus material? Every reference I’ve seen is either quite outdated or available only in Chinese.

    Any idea how the big, big Shantungosaurs material measures up against the giant hadrosauroid Zhuchengosaurus?

  4. 8 Craig Dylke 08/08/2012 at 11:04 am

    There’s Geology Museum in Beijing too! Oh no! I just got back from my trip up there, and managed to hit the IVPP and BNHM, but had no clue about this other one…

    Do I need to put it on my list of Dinosaur museums of China to see, or (from the public viewing gallery) is it skippable?

    • 9 David Hone 08/08/2012 at 11:14 am

      It does have a lot of good stuff. The dinosaur hall is small but it’s got holotypes of Caudipteryx, Protarchaeopteryx, Sinosuaropteryx, a whole bunch of birds, bits of prosauropod and some pterosaurs and crocs as well as what are now considered teeth of Zhuchengtyrannus (formerlly Tyrannosaurs zhuchengensis). So yeah, worth a trip.


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