Erketu (after the Mongolian deity)
Erketu (after the Mongolian deity)
Named By : Daniel T. Ksepka & Mark A. Norell - 2006
Diet : Herbivore
Size : Estimated 15 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Sauropod
Type Species : E. ellisoni (type)
Found in : Mongolia - Baynshire Formation
When it Lived : Late Cretaceous, 96-89 million years ago
Erketu, which means “Erketu Tengri”, is a genus that contains somphospondylan dinosaurs. It lived in Asia during Late Cretaceous approximately between 96 million to 89 million years ago. It was first discovered in Mongolia in 2002 and 2003, during a field expedition. They were then described for the first time in 2010. This was due to some cervicals that were lost in the expedition. Erketu is one of the first to be described from the Bayan Shireh Formation. Erketu’s elongated cervical vertebrae indicates it was the sauropod that had the longest neck in relation to its body.
In 2002, the American Museum of Natural History and Mongolian Academy of Sciences expedition in Mongolia found the first remains of Erketu. The outcrops of Bor Guve were discovered by the team. This new location is located over the Khara Kuthul area and can therefore be referred to as the Bayan Shireh formation. IGM 100/1803 was discovered in exposure at Bor Guve’s sediments. It is primarily composed of sandstone and interbedded gray siltstones. This suggests a fluvial environment similar to the Bayan Shireh Formation. The cervical vertebrae are the main components of collected elements. Postcranial remains include the partial right sternum and fibula, as well as postcranial remains such as the calcaneum and tibia.
These remains were used as the holotype of Erketu ellisoni’s new genus and new species Erketu. They were first described by Daniel Ksepka of the American Museum of Natural History in 2006. This particular sauropod species’ generic name is Erketu, after Erketu, the creator god (tengri), of Mongolian Shamanism. The name ellisoni is named after Mick Ellison, the American Museum of Natural History’s principal paleoartist and close friend of Norell. The team returned to the site in 2003 and found three more cervicals. These were not present during the initial field expedition. They were described in 2010.
Erketu was a large sauropod with a length of 15m (49 feet) and a weight 5t (11,000 lb). The neck of Erketu was twice as long as the body. This may have been a record for neck-to-body ratio. It is not known what the exact ratio looks like, as no E. ellisoni dorsal vertebrae have been reported. However, some hindlimb material indicates the approximate body size. Erketu’s long neck is due to the lengthening of individual vertebrae. It is not known if there was an increase in cervical vertebrae. Bifurcate anterior cervical neural spins are also a characteristic of Erketu, a titanosauriform. There are eight preserved cervical vertebrae, which include the atlas (axis), C3 to C9 and C3-C9. However, the sixth is missing.
It measures approximately 530 mm (53cm) in length and has a thickened border. The right hindlimb components were found in articulation, and they look very similar to those of Gobititan. The length of the tibia is 710 mm (71.1 cm) in length. It has slightly expanded ends, and, in comparison to Opisthocoelicaudia’s, the anterior or distal expansions are less developed. The fibula measures 750mm (75cm) longer than the tibia, but it seems to have been broken at the distal end by one of the trochanters.