No, it’s not the set up to a prehistoric dad joke, but a genuine question that we’ve got the answer to. There is, in fact, a name for those gentle giant dinosaurs with the tiny heads and long necks that we’ve all grown to love. They are called Sauropods.
Here at the Lost Kingdom, in Paultons Park, we love dinosaurs and we love to bring you all of the latest research and information about these feathered and not-so feathered friends!
Today we’ll be looking at those famously lovable and long necked dinosaurs that won the hearts of fans everywhere with their gentle ways; the Sauropods.
Sauropods are classified by their long necks, small heads, long tails and standing on 4 pillar-like legs that support their massive size. They are history’s biggest land animals. The biggest Sauropod, Argentinosaurus, weighed in at a whopping 77 tonnes.
So far, archaeologists have unearthed around 210 species of Sauropod, with upwards of 175 different genera. While neck lengths vary among the classification, all Sauropods have proportionally long necks when compared to the size of their head and length of their bodies.
Now that you know the name for the type of dinosaur that has that super long neck, shall we take a look at some of our favourite Sauropods? Because we think they are all absolutely fantastic!
Our Stupendous Sauropod List:
Apatosaurus is a pretty well known dinosaur among those who are well versed in all things Jurassic, but it’s definitely obscure enough to impress your friends who are not quite so in-the-know. So arm yourself with a little Apatosaurus knowledge and they’ll be blown away. We’ll get you started.
Apatosaurus is a herbivorous Sauropod that was first discovered by Arthur Lakes in 1877 in Colorado. Lakes wrote to Othniel Charles Marsh who first named Apatosaurus in November that same year. Fossils have since also been found in Europe, which shows that Apatosaurus didn’t live only in North America, as previously thought.
Apatosaurus was alive in the late Jurassic period, 156-151 million years ago. This massive Sauropod was around 22 metres in length and weighed up to 22 tons. Apatosaurus ate a plant based diet consisting mostly of Horsetails, which is a plant that is still around today!
Apatosaurus’ neck measured a huge 5.9 metres. So the next time someone asks you for the name of a dinosaur with a really long neck, you can confidently suggest the Apatosaurus!
Diplodocus is one of the UK’s favourite dinosaurs and this is, in part, thanks to Dippy. Dippy is a plaster cast replica of the fossilised bones of a diplodocus that was displayed in London’s Natural History Museum from 1905-2017 and became an iconic landmark in its own right, winning the hearts and minds of the nation. The fossil that Dippy was cast from was discovered in Wyoming in 1898, but the diplodocus was first discovered 20 years earlier in Colorado.
Diplodocus was around 26 metres in length, and also lived in the late Jurassic period, around 155-145 million years ago in North America. This dinosaur had rows of pointed teeth like combs, which allowed it to strip the leaves and vegetation off branches effectively. Like all Sauropods, Dippy was a herbivore.
A Diplodocus’ neck could be as long as 6.5 metres in length, which we think you’ll agree is pretty impressive… Despite being previously depicted with their heads high above the ground and towering over their surroundings, scientists now believe that the default position for a Diplodocus’ neck would have been held horizontally and straight ahead.
We actually think that the idea of a super long Diplodocus with its neck reaching out in front and its tail swooping behind is really cool. We hope that you agree and that you’ll mention this majestic Sauropod next time someone mentions long-necked dinosaurs.
We couldn’t talk about Sauropods without mentioning the Argentinosaurus. Argentinosaurus is the largest land animal to have ever lived. It also happens to be a Sauropod with a very long neck!
Argentinosaurus lived in the Late Cretaceous period 90 million years ago. It was first discovered in 1987 in Argentina. Initially Guillermo Heredia, the farmer who made the discovery, believed he had found petrified logs. He had actually uncovered the calf bone of the largest animal that has ever walked the earth. Learn more about the largest dinosaurs of all time.
Scientists believe that Argentinosaurus’ hatched young would have been very small, no longer than a metre in length, which is amazing seeing as they eventually grow to be around 30-40 metres in length. As for its neck, Argentinosaurus had a neck that was over 8.8 metres long and this Sauropod is believed to have extended its neck high into the air in order to graze on tree tops.
So, what do you think? Will you be telling your friends about the mighty Argentinosaurus?
Brontosaurus is such a well known dinosaur that it has actually sometimes been used as a catch all term for all Sauropods, but it is, in fact, a specific genus of dinosaur itself. Brontosaurus is one of the best known dinosaurs in the world and is especially popular in the USA.
One type of Brontosaurus was so similar to the earlier discovered Apatosaurus that it was reclassified as an Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus was thought to be invalid until 2015 when a group of researchers proposed that Brontosaurus is a separate genus from Apatosaurus and contains three species.
Brontosaurus means Thunder Lizard in Greek, which is one of the most awesome dinosaur name meanings we’ve heard and is well deserved by this fantastic creature. Brontosaurus was between 21-23 metres in length and lived during the Late Jurassic period.
The discovery and then rediscovery of Brontosaurus has really transformed the way science thinks of Sauropods and this dinosaur is the archetype of the classification. When someone asks you what you call a dinosaur with a long neck, you should absolutely talk about the mark Brontosaurus has left on history and archaeology.
From the Early Cretaceous period in what is now known as Argentina, Amargasaurus was first discovered in 1984. The specimen discovered in 1984 remains the only Amargasaurus fossil to ever have been found. Thankfully this fossil was very complete.
Amargasaurus was a very large animal and measured around 10 metres in length. Although this makes it a big animal, it was actually pretty small for a Sauropod and was only around a quarter of the length of the Argentinosaurus.
One of the most interesting things about the appearance of the Amargasaurus is the double row of spines it had along its back. Scientists believe that this would have supported a twin sail of skin, similar to the sail found along the back of the Spinosaurus. How cool is that!
The Amargasaurus neck measured 2.4 metres in length, which might not sound that impressive when compared to the other Sauropods on this list, but when you consider that it is still much longer than a giraffe’s neck (1.8 metres long) it really puts into perspective just how big these dinosaurs were.
We hope that you remember the smaller Amargasaurus when you tell your friends about all of the dinosaurs with long necks that you’ve heard about.
Thanks to its inclusion in the original 1993 Jurassic Park movie, Brachiosaurus is one of the most famous dinosaurs in the world. Some sources actually cite that Brachiosaurus is the second most famous dinosaur, after T-Rex. Whether this is accurate or not, Brachiosaurus is certainly an iconic dinosaur that has fans all over the world.
Known for being a gentle giant with a herbivorous diet, Brachiosaurus ate mostly Gingkos and could live to be up to 100 years old. It is named after the fact that it had longer front limbs than hind limbs. Brachiosaurus means Arm Lizard. The front limbs would have helped Brachiosaurus reach up tall to get the highest vegetation.
Speaking of reaching up tall… Brachiosaurus’ neck was a whopping 9 metres in length, making it even longer than the neck of the colossal Argentinosaurus. Considering the Brachiosaurus was only (only?!?) 23 metres in length, this makes the Brachiosaurus’ neck abnormally long; even for a Sauropod.
Those longer front limbs and that extra long neck must have been a real advantage when it came to grazing the tree tops. You can learn more about Brachiosaurus on our blog!
Now, let’s take a look at the dinosaur with the longest neck of all…
Sauroposeidon – the dinosaur with the longest neck
Measuring up at a spectacular 11.5-12 metres long, the Sauroposeidon has the longest neck of all the dinosaurs.
The super long neck of the Sauroposeidon consists of elongated bones (vertebrae), which are unusually long. Upon examination, it became clear that the bones are honeycombed with tiny air cells, which is similar to the bones of a chicken and would have made this very long neck quite light and easier to lift.
Its mega long neck also contributes to the fact that Sauroposeidon is considered to be the tallest dinosaur that ever existed. Sauroposeidon is thought to have grown to be as tall as 18-21 metres, which is more than 1 and a half times the height of the Brachiosaurus and means that a Sauroposeidon could look into a window on the sixth floor of a building!
Named after the Greek God Poseidon, with a name translating literally to Lizard Earthquake God, Sauroposeidon remains have been discovered in Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. The initial Sauroposeidon discoveries were made in rural Oklahoma in 1994 and, due to their unusual size, they were initially thought to be petrified wood but were later discovered to be vertebrae.Vertebrae are the interlocking bones that form the spinal column.
Sauroposeidon lived around 100 million years ago in the Middle Cretaceous period. Like all Sauropods, Sauroposeidon was herbivorous and ate an exclusively plant based diet.
Which dinosaur are you? Take our popular quiz to find out.
Once you’ve discovered what kind of dinosaur you are, we’d love to welcome you to Paultons Park and help you have the best prehistoric dinosaur themed day out with your family and friends. Don’t forget to book your tickets online to avoid disappointment on the day!