Friday, June 21, 2013

Creature Feature: Amargasaurus

Despite the strange subconscious connection between dragons and snakes, there is a very strong idea that dragons were either the last few remaining dinosaurs or based off of dinosaur bones. It's a valid theory to explain where the idea of dragons (and gryphons!) came from, even if snakes share a loooot of symbolism in the collective subconscious as guardian serpents. After all, who's to say that some dinosaurs didn't survive into medieval times? Then, well, humans were dicks and killed off the dinosaurs that weren't from the Congo. We're probably the meanest species ever, and wasps that lay eggs in caterpillars are a thing.

Anyways, dragons.

This is an Amargasaurus. It was found in La Amarga Arroyo, Argentina. The name simply refers to the area in which it was found. Like all sauropods, it was an herbivore, and lived in the Cretaceous Period with 95% of the other popular dinosaurs. It was relatively small, being only 30 feet (~10 meters) long. Yes, "as long as a school bus" is indeed small by sauropod standards.

Amargasaurus is probably the dinosaur that looks the most like a dragon. The long neck. The spikes. Since this is a sauropod we're talking about, it might even have given rise to lake/river monsters with only the head and tail visible beneath the water. It would indeed have looked like a bizarre giant snake. If there is any dinosaur that screams "dragon," it's Amargasaurus.

Disclaimer: May not be correct.

As of this entry, Amargasaurus is the only sauropod to ever flaunt spikes. Nobody knows what these neck and back spikes were for. A while back, it was popular to depict Amargasaurus with a sail spanning those spikes; this has since gone out of fashion, making it the most boss-looking longneck ever instead. Other theories include a mating display and, well, defense. Spikes are quite the fitting way to protect the most vulnerable part on a sauropod's body, no?

Despite looking a loooot like a Western dragon without the wings, Amargasaurus hasn't had very much screentime. Sure, it pops up in Fossil Fighters and Jurassic Park games, but that's about it. It suffers from the same syndrome all duckbills that aren't Parasaurolophus and all pterosaurs that aren't Pteranodon do: it doesn't fit the "modern analogy" mold and doesn't look a damn thing like the Apatosaurus or Brachiosaurus, AKA the "default" sauropods. It's also not as big as either of those two sauropods, making it possibly the most underrated sauropod ever. Try calling it a dragon; people will totally buy it.

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