Sauropod Head Neck

Getting to grips with dino neck bones reported in Science (AAAS) News 27 February 2017.

Sauropods, such as the iconic Brontosaurus and Diplodocus, were enormous dinosaurs with extremely long necks. The weight of the neck and the forces generated by moving it put enormous strain on the vertebral bones, especially while the vertebrae were still growing. A vertebral neck bone has two parts, a cylindrical section, named the centrum, which sits below the spinal cord, and an arch shaped part, named the neural arch because it goes over the top of the spinal cord, so the spinal cord is completely surrounded by bone. While neck bones are growing rapidly in early life the centrum and neural arch are separated by a layer of cartilage which acts as a growth centre, but it is a potential site of weakness in the overall structure.

University of Michigan vertebrate palaeontologists John Fronimos and Jeffrey Wilson have studied the neck vertebrae of a sauropod named Spinophorosaurus nigerensis. They found the surfaces of the bones where the centrum and neural arch were joined were not smooth, but were grooved to form an interlocking curved structure, so the bones fitted together like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This curved surface enabled a better grip between the two bones. Mathew Wedel, a vertebrate palaeontologist at Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, California, compared the surfaces to those of sports shoes and commented: “They basically went from having slick soles to having treads”.

The curved surface also provided a larger surface area of contact than if the bones were smooth. Fronimos explained: “This means that the same amount of force is distributed over a larger area, reducing the stress at any one point”.

Also, the curved shape was not exactly the same along the length of the neck. The interlocking curves were most complex at the base of the neck, between the shoulders and least complex at the head end. Fronimos explained: “As you move down the neck, each individual bone has to support more and more weight because there’s more and more neck out ahead of them that it has to support. So, there’s going to be more stress applied to that bone until you get to the shoulders, which are bearing the whole weight of the neck”. Mathew Wedel commented that variation in complexity “makes good mechanical sense”.


Editorial Comment: When was the last time you made a dinosaur that worked? Haven’t done it yet? Neither has Attenborough, the BBC, the ABC, or any evolutionist unless you count the intelligently designed computer Hollywood simulations or well-engineered robot-a-saurs. To get something to work with good mechanical sense requires a good mechanical engineer who knows ahead of time the forces that his structure will be subjected to, and therefore how to build in the right design.

Building a structure by chance random processes, without understanding the mechanical properties of the structure and the forces that will impinge on it, is a recipe for disaster. Mechanical failure of neck vertebrae means a broken neck and mangled spinal cord – definitely a failure in the struggle for life.

It is far more logical to believe this very clever interlocking curved structure was designed by the intelligent Creator who knew how to program the DNA to keep the dinosaur’s hugely long neck together during its early life when the bones were growing from within in order to accommodate the growth of the spinal cord and its coverings.

Also, so when that growth was completed the growth centres between the centrum and neural arch could then close over, so the vertebrae would become solid bones, although they would continue to grow in length and thickness from the outer surface as long as the animal lived. For pre-flood dinosaurs that would have been a long time, and they would have grown very large with very long necks, but big or small, it was mechanically sound because they were well designed from the beginning.

Evidence News vol. 17 No.4
22 March 2017
Creation Research Australia

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