The Kid Should See This

Why did sauropods have long necks?

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“153 million years ago in Montana, the giant dinosaur known as Diplodocus wandered through a seasonal wetland looking for its lunch. Like most other sauropod dinosaurs, Diplodocus was pretty big – it weighed almost as much as 4 elephants, and was about as long as three school buses. And: a full 25% of that length was its neck, far longer than any mammal’s neck would – or could – ever be.”

sauropod sizes

“If it sat back on its haunches to rear up, like some paleontologists have hypothesized that it could have, then Diplodocus might’ve reached a full 11 meters up into the trees.

“So, you might understand why some paleontologists were surprised after studying the teeth of a Diplodocus. Based on the scratch marks they found on the teeth, it turned out that the primary diet of Diplodocus wasn’t the leaves of trees; it was ground cover, like ferns and horsetails. And it’s not just Diplodocus that ate this way…”

Why did sauropods have long necks if many species weren’t using them to eat from the tops of trees? And what’s a feeding envelope?

In the PBS Eons video above, paleontologist Kallie Moore shares the science of Sauropod necks and how their related feeding behaviors were tied to the environments where they lived. Sauropod discussed in the video also include Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Camarasaurus, Argentinosaurus, Vulcanodon, Patagosaurus, Giraffatitan, and Supersaurus.

Morrison Formation
sauropods in a savannah-like landscape
Learn more about feeding envelopes with the three-minute Dinosaur National Monument demonstration video below.


sauropod feeding envelope
Read more about the Morrison Formation at Palaeontology Online and NPS.gov.

Then watch these related dinosaur videos next:
β€’Β Why does T.rex have tiny arms?
β€’Β How do we know what color dinosaurs were?
β€’Β Dinosaurs probably didn’t roar. What did they sound like?
β€’Β How to ride a pterosaur, according to science
β€’Β What did dinosaurs actually look like?

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