The Long Neck Dinosaur

November 25, 2023 15 min read

long neck dinosaur

Discover the Top 11 Long Neck Dinosaurs That Dominated Our Planet !


The Long Neck Dinosaur, or sauropod is one of the most common classifications of dinosaurs, mega creatures that dominated our planet hundreds of millions of years ago. Also known as sauropods, these dinosaurs are typically very large, with some standing as tall as a five-story building. Other common characteristics that sauropods share are their extremely long necks, four-legged stance, herbivorous diet, and tendency to travel in herds.


Since the discovery of dinosaur fossils in the 19th century, researchers have identified over 250 distinct sauropod species and upwards of 175 genera. They were some of the mightiest animals to roam our Earth and continue to fascinate paleontologists.


In this article, we will discuss the top 11 long neck dinosaurs that roamed our planet many millions of years ago. Read on to find out more about the size, diet, behavioral traits, and other interesting facts of these giant creatures.

 

The Top 11 Long Neck Dinosaurs 

There are many species of dinosaurs having long necks, each with different characteristics and neck lengths. The following is a list of the top 11 dinosaurs by the length of their neck, measured from the top of the head to the shoulders.

 

  • Supersaurus – 50 Feet Neck Length

 

supersaurus long neck dinosaur

 

With an estimated total length longer than 3 school buses standing together, the Supersaurus has been crownedthe longest dinosaur in the world by scientists. This humongous dinosaur had a 50-foot-long neck and a 60-foot-long tail, with a total body length of up to 138 feet! It roamed regions of North America and Europe during the Jurassic Period about 150 million years ago. 


The first fossil remains of the Supersaurus were discovered in 1972 by dinosaur field worker Jim Jensen in Dry Mesa Dinosaur Quarry in Colorado, United States. These fossils were mixed with many other dinosaur bones in what is famously referred to as a ‘bone salad’. 


Scientists originally believed these bones belonged to three dinosaurs, the Supersaurs, Ultrasaurus, and Dystylosaurus. However, since then, paleontologists like Brian Curtice have brought forward new research saying that all the bones were of just one dinosaur: the Supersaurus. Many museums around the world have reconstructed this dinosaur, including one at the Wyoming Dinosaur Centre called “Jimbo”.


This dinosaur relied on only plants for its sustenance, with gastroliths or stomach stones inside its stomach for aid in digestion. It had blunt, spoon-shaped teeth that it would use to strip down leaves and vegetation. 


Similar to other herbivores, Supersauruses would travel together in herds. Once the vegetation of a particular region became scarce, the Supersaurus would migrate to another place. Although this dinosaur probably had no natural predators due to its intimidating size, the creature was likely hunted by the carnivores Allosaurus or Certaosaurus in packs. 


The Supersaurus is classified as adiplodocid(meaning “double beams”). This name is given to those dinosaurs that have both very long necks and tails. 

 

  • Mamenchisaurus – 50 Feet Neck Length

 

Mamenchisaurus long neck dinosaur

 

The Mamenchisaurus is a Late Jurassic sauropod that roamed the regions of present-day East Asia over 160 million years ago. With a 50-foot neck length equivalent to 1.5 times the length of a double-decker bus, this dinosaur has one of the longest necks of any animal known to mankind.


The Mamenchisaurus was discovered in 1987 as part of the findings of the China-Canada Dinosaur Project Team. Incomplete fossil remains consisting of a lower jaw, skull bits, and a few vertebrae were embedded in the 162 million-year-old rocks of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China. This region is called the Shishugou Formation and is famous for its dinosaur-rich sandstone. 


It wasn’t until decades later that an international team including American paleontologist Dr. Andrew J. Moore and British Researcher Prof. Paul Berret reported the true size of this creature. After extensive research and analysis, the team concluded that this sauropod had a 50-foot-long neck, similar in size to the mighty Supersaurus. Although the Supersaurus has a longer body, both dinosaurs have the longest known neck lengths ever known.


As a herbivore, the Mamenchisaurus only consumed plants and other vegetation. However, to save itself from the time and effort of eating, it would swallow its meals whole, digesting later.  Using its rakelike teeth, the dinosaur would strip large amounts of leaves from high branches and eat without chewing. The rest of the work was done by their stomach, which functioned like a fermentation tank, slowly breaking down food. 


Taking about 69-77% of its volume, the 50-foot-long neck of the Mamenchisaurus equaled over six times longer than a giraffe’s  It consisted of lightweight vertebrae containing hollow spaces coupled with neck ribs similar to rods. This arrangement allowed them to have greater flexibility and control over their necks.


The breathing system of this dinosaur was also quite complex, with multiple air sacs spread throughout its neck, chest, and abdomen.

 

  • Sauroposeidon – 39 Feet Neck Length

 

Sauroposeidon long neck dinosaur

 

The Sauroposeidon was a colossal dinosaur that existed towards the end of the Early Cretaceous period about 113 to 110 million years ago. This sauropod lived in the coastal area bordering the Gulf of Mexico which at the time stretched all the way to present-day Oklahoma. 


The discovery of the Sauroposeidon is credited to Oklahoman bloodhound trainer Bobby Cross, who stumbled across fossil remains while looking for relics in the woods in 1994. He alerted the University of Oklahoma Natural History Museum, and they sent a team to further investigate his findings. Under the guidance of paleontologist Richard L. Cifelli, this team was able to excavate three full and one partial vertebrae. 


The Sauroposeidon lived in an area that was at that time a river delta, allowing the dinosaurs to have access to lots of tropical vegetation. Its plant-based diet is likely to have consisted of conifers, magnolias, palms, and sycamores, all staples of the Cretaceous period. 


Research on the discovered bones revealed that these vertebrae belonged to a dinosaur that sported a 39-foot-long neck and weighed over 60 tons. Named Sauroposeidon, after the earthquake-inducing Greek sea god Poseidon, the head of this dinosaur could reach up to 69 feet in height and stretch to a maximum of 112 feet. 


Although these theories have not yet been proven, some experts believe that the Sauroposiedon ate its meals in a low-lying position. Akin to the silhouette of a vacuum cleaner, this method of feeding may have been the safer option for the dinosaur, as the alternative of stretching its neck high could put anintense amount of pressure on its internal organs, especially the heart.

 

  • Brachiosaurus – 30 Feet Neck Length

 

Brachiosaurus long neck dinosaur

 

Derived from the Greek words meaning arm lizard, the Brachiosaurus was one of the tallest dinosaurs to ever roam the Earth. It was a majestic creature that had a neck length that measured approximately 30 feet, about the length of a standard school bus. This dinosaur inhabited parts of North America during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods approximately 150 million to 130 million years ago.


The first fossils of this dinosaur were discovered in 1900 by paleontologist Elmer S. Riggs in the Grand Canyon of Colorado, United States. Decades before this discovery, a dinosaur skull was found by Othnicel C. Marsh, a famous paleontologist of the 20th century. Later on, this particular skull was identified as of the same species as Elmer’s findings, and thus a complete specimen was formed. 


Like all other sauropods, this dino was also a herbivore with a diet consisting of plants and other vegetation. To sustain its enormous build, the Brachiosaurus had to eat over 800 pounds of plant matter every day. Its diet most likely consisted of cycads, ginkgos, and coniferous trees. Brachiosaurus had spoon-shaped teeth, positioned in a thick, strong jaw. 


The Brachiosaurus had a unique body structure consisting of shorter hind legs and longer front legs. Its scientific name Brachiosaurus altithirax, meaninghigh-thoraxed arm lizard references this trait. Other features of this dinosaur include a small head, flat nose, and thick tail that is relatively shorter than other sauropods. 


Its standout feature, however, was definitely its mighty 30-foot neck that formed an S-shape, curving at the head and the shoulders.

 

  • Barosaurus – 30 Feet Neck Length

 

Barosaurus long neck dinosaur

 

The Barosaurus had an astounding neck length of 30 feet, and its neck alone is estimated to have weighed over 1.5 tons according to evolutionary biologists. This has led to some debates on the stance of the dinosaur, with scientists speculating whether it held its neck high in a curved shape or parallel to the ground.


About 155 to 145 million years ago, the long neck dinosaur Barosaurus could be seen roaming the plains of what is now North America. As a herbivore with a slender head and long body, this dinosaur bears many similarities to other sauropods from the late Jurassic period like the Diplodocus and Apatosaurus.


With only a handful of specimens ever found, the Barosaurus is one of the rarer dinosaurs on this list. The first complete fossil remains of the Barosaurus were discovered by the American paleontologist Earl Douglass in 1923 from the Carnegie Quarry, a part of the Morrison Formation in the central United States. This dinosaur-rich region is home to the fossils of many famous dinosaurs and is a popular excavation spot for many researchers.


At the time of discovery, the remains were thought to be of the Diplodocus due to their striking similarities. In 2007, the Royal Ontario Museum’s curator David Evans found an unidentified set of fossils in the storage section of the museum. Upon research, these remains were found to be the most complete set that exists of the Barosaurus.


The name Barosaurus comes from the Greek word baria meaning heavy and saurus meaning lizard. As this is a dinosaur that weighed over 20 tons, the Barosaurus is aptly named. Other notable features of the Bairosaurus were its disproportionately small head and long tail. According to researchers, this dinosaur was so tall that it could easily peer over a five-story building at its maximum height

 

  • Omeisaurus – 30 feet Neck Length

 

Omeisaurus long neck dinosaur

 

One of the more obscure dinosaurs on this list is the Omeisaurus, a primitive sauropod that inhabited Asia in the Late Jurassic period approximately 145 million years ago. This dinosaur had an enormously long neck that was over four times longer than the length of its entire body. 


The Omeisaurus’ fossil remains were first discovered in 1936 by paleontologists Charles Lewis Camp and Yang Zhongjian. These fossils were incomplete, consisting of just four neck vertebrae and skull fragments. Zhongjian is the one who gave the Omeisaurus its name, which means Omei lizard, as the first specimen was discovered near Mount Emeishan in the lower Shaximia Formation in the Sichuan Province. Since then, fossils have been found across parts of what is now China, including Chongqing, Yunnan, and Sichuan. 


Some specimens of the Omeisaurus reportedly had a body length reaching almost 70 feet, yet the dinosaur is still considered medium-sized when compared to other sauropods. As for its behavior traits, it was a herbivore with a huge appetite, requiring it to likely consume more than 400 pounds of plants every day to sustain itself. 


Although it was discovered in the 1930s, it wasn’t until decades later in the 1980s that the researchers realized just how long-necked this dinosaur is. With a length of up to 30 feet andmade up of 17 elongated bones, the Omeisaurus sports the longest neck relative to its body size. 

 

  • Argentinosaurus – 29 feet Neck Length

 

Argentinosaurus long neck dinosaur

 

With an estimated total length of 100 feet and approximate weight of up to 110 tons, the titanosaur Argentinosaurus is one of thelargest land animals ever discovered by mankind. It lived in the Cretaceous Period in modern-day Argentina. 


The fossil remains of the Argentinosaurus were first discovered in 1987 by farmer Guillermo Heredia on his land in Neuquen Province, Argentina. Later on, Argentinian paleontologist Jose F. Bonaparte conducted more expeditions at this site, uncovering more fragments of this dinosaur. The name Argentinosaur comes from the country where it was found. 


Argentinosaurus was very slow; researchers estimate it could reach a maximum speed of five miles an hour due to its sheer weight. Argentinosaurus reached maturity late, with some estimating that it took 40 years for the Argentinosaurus to reach its full adult size. 


The neck length of the Argentinosaur was a staggering 29 feet, which is the equivalent of a school bus. The position of its neck is an ongoing debate among researchers, but the standard opinion is that the neck stretches in an upward direction rather than horizontally. 


Other body features include a small head, a long tail, and four short muscular legs with longer front limbs and shorter back limbs. 

 

  • Diplodocus – 20 Feet Neck Length

 

diplodocus long neck dinosaur

 

The Diplodocus is a sauropod that lived in the Late Jurassic Period about 161 million to 146 million years ago. Featuring a neck length of 20 feet, this herbivore is known as one of the largest animals to have ever walked the earth.


The fossil remains of this dinosaur were first found in 1877 by Benjamin Mudge and Samuel W. Williston near Canon City, Colorado. Since then, many more fossils have been discovered in the Morrison Formation, a section of the Rocky Mountains that includes Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. The name ‘Diplodocus” was the brainchild of the American paleontologist Othniel Charles, who coined the term in 1878.


The Diplodocus belongs to a subgroup of dinosaurs called the diplodocids, which also includes long neck dinosaurs like Apatosaurus and Supersaurus. Although it was a giant animal measuring up to 92 feet in length, the Diplodocus weighed only 15 tons. This is almost half the weight of the similarly built Apatosaurus. 


It also sported an exceptionally long tail, which contained two rows of bones on its underside for extra support and flexibility. The name Diplodocus, meaning ‘double beam’ is a reference to its unique body structure. Despite having such a long neck, this dinosaur has an unusually small skull, with a head size of just 2 feet. It also had an interesting dental structure, with tiny, peg-like teeth. Their small size and chiseled nature aided them in crushing leaves and other vegetation.


The trademark feature of the Diplodocus was its neck, measuring at least 20 feet according to researchers. This allowed the dinosaur to easily access high and low vegetation, as it maintained a herbivorous diet. However, despite being long and slender, the neckdid not have as much dorsalflexibility as other similar sauropods.

 

  • Apatosaurus – 20 Feet Neck Length

 

Apatosaurus long neck dinosaur

 

The Apatosaurus was a giant herbivorous dinosaur that lived in regions of North America about 150 million years ago during the Late Jurassic Period. It is one of the most widely known dinosaurs with a long neck.


This giant animal has been found in both the foothills of Colorado and the dinosaur-rich region Morrison Formation in the present-day United States. Naturalist Arthur Lakes and paleontologist O.C. Marsh are credited for their initial discoveries. 


At the time, another similar sauropod, Brontosaurus was also unearthed and named by Marsh. Decades later, paleontologist Elmer Riggs concluded that both these species were the same, and should be referred to as Apatosaurus. This resulted in a series of large-scale changes to be adopted in museums and schools. 


As a sauropod herbivore, the Apatosaurus’ diet was not too diverse, mainly made up of leaves and fruit. Although the dinosaur had small, chiseled, peg-like teeth, it did not chew its food. The Apatosaurus used its teeth as a means to strip vegetation from high trees and branches. Once accumulated, it swallowed its meals whole, and they would sit in its stomach fermenting and digesting with time.


Apatosaurus had weight and length of up to 45 tons and 75 feet respectively. Unlike the Brachiosaurus which had a shorter tail, the Apatosaurus tail was also incredibly long,functioning similar to a whip. 

 

  •  Cetiosaurus – 15 Feet Neck Length

 

Cetiosaurus long neck dinosaur

 

Meaningwhale-like lizard,the Cetiosaurus s was a long neck herbivore that existed in the Middle Jurassic Epoch period about 170 to 160 million years ago. This dinosaur is one of the most common sauropods of its time, inhabiting parts of Western Europe and North Africa including Morroco. 


British anatomist Richard Owen first discovered limb bones and vertebrae of this creature in multiple sites in 1841 England. These bones were similar in appearance to crocodiles, while the vertebrae seemed to resemble whale anatomy. This led him to believe that the remains were from a whale-like lizard that preyed on other marine life. Decades later, these fossils were recognized as that of the Cetiosaurus, a sauropod dinosaur. This was aided by the discovery of skeletons in a quarry near Oxford, England. in 1861.

For the next century, the details of this dinosaur remained a mystery, until more fossils were uncovered in the mid-1900s.
With a total length ranging between 50 to 60 feet from head to tail, the Cetiosaurus was a smaller sauropod than the Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus. However, for the time it belonged to, it was a giant, as most of the very large sauropods did not exist until many million years later. 

The estimated weight of the Cetiosaurus was about 10 tons, and it walked on all four, making it a quadrupedal dinosaur. Similar to other sauropods, the Cetiosaurus was a herbivore that used its peg-like teeth to strip vegetation off trees and plants

 

  • Camarasaurus – 12 Feet Neck Length 

 

Camarasaurus long neck dinosaur

 

With a total body length of approximately 59 feet, the Camarasaurus was one of the smaller sauropods that lived in parts of North America about 155 to 145 million years ago in the Late Jurassic Period. However, despite its moderate size, it sported a long neck that wassubstantially longer than is trunk, It is one of the most commonly discovered dinosaurs, with many fossil remains found across the present-day United States. 


The first remains of the Camasaurus were discovered by Oramel W. Lucas in 1877, while the first complete skeleton was unearthed by Charles W. Gillmore in 1925. Since then, Fossils of the Camasaurus have been found across many parts of the central United States, including the Colorado Plateau region, central, eastern, and southern Utah, and Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. Their frequency and proximity have led researchers to believe that these dinosaurs traveled in herds together. 


The name Camarasaurus means chambered lizard and it is a nod to the dinosaur’s hollow vertebrae. It is also classified as a Saurischian (lizard-hipped) dinosaur, due to the anatomical similarity of its pelvis to that of a lizard. It also had large spoon-shaped teeth and a square-shaped head that featured a short snout. 


As a herbivore, this dinosaur relied on plants as its main source of food. However, scientists have discovered that along with vegetation, the Camarasaurus swallowed stones. These rocks would possibly aid the animal in the breakdown of its meal, or provide nutrients from its many minerals. One interesting fact about this dinosaur is that several of its fossil remains have been found with Allosaurus gouge marks, an indication that it likely fell prey to the fierce carnivore.

 

Interesting Facts About Long Neck Dinosaurs

The sauropods were some of the mightiest land animals to have ever existed in human history. The following are some interesting facts about these giant dinosaurs.

 

  • Uniquely Layed Eggs:   

Rather than laying their eggs in nests, sauropods likely dropped their eggs while walking. This claim is supported by the discovery of fossiled eggs that were in a linear pattern.

 

  • Largest Land Animals to Exist:

With body lengths reaching upwards of 100 feet and weights of several tons, the sauropods are known as the largest of all dinosaurs and land animals to have ever existed

 

  • Small Brains:

Despite their huge sizes, long-necked dinosaurs ironically had very small brains. Housed in small, round heads, the brains of these animals were about the size of a tennis ball on average. The Diplodocus, one of the biggest dinosaurs with a long neck had a brain that onlyweighed 4 ounces

 

  • Air-sack Circulatory System:

Many sauropods like the Brachiosaurus had a unique circulatory system that consisted of air-sacs on either side of their neck bones. In this way, the neck of the dinosaur became lighter and more flexible. This system was necessary to balance the weight of the dinosaur’s massive neck with the rest of the body.

 

  • Roamed All Seven Continents:

Fossil remains of sauropod long-neck dinosaurs have been found on all seven continents of the world, even Antarctica. This is because hundreds of million years ago the continents as we know them were connected, with similar climates in all regions. Dinosaurs would have simply had to walk from one continent to the other, allowing them to be dispersed throughout the world.

 

 

When the Long Necks Vanished: The Sauropod Hiatus

About 150 million years ago, during a time called the Late Cretaceous, there was something strange happening in North America. The big, long-necked dinosaurs called sauropods, which were once very common, suddenly seemed to disappear. This period is known as the "Sauropod Hiatus." For a long time, no one could find their fossils in North America.


Then, scientists discovered a dinosaur called Alamosaurus. This dinosaur, also with a long neck, lived at the end of the Cretaceous period. Its discovery marked the end of the Sauropod Hiatus.


So, why did this happen? Most scientists think it was because of changes in the climate. Maybe the weather, the plants they ate, or where they lived changed so much that the sauropods couldn't survive in North America anymore. Some believe that sauropods came back to North America from South America, crossing the land after they had disappeared for a while.


Another idea is that maybe there wasn't really a gap. It could be that changes in the earth, like the movement of rocks and soil, made it hard for us to find the sauropods' fossils from that time. Even with these ideas, we're still not sure why the Sauropod Hiatus happened. Scientists keep studying it to learn more.

 

Final Thoughts

Long neck dinosaurs are some of the most fascinating creatures to ever exist, dominating our planet many hundreds of millions of years ago with their giant bodies and majestic stances. Species like the Supersaurus and Mamenchisaurus reached a whopping 50 feet in neck length, the equivalent of a five-story building.  


However, up until just two centuries ago, the reality of their existence was an enigma to humans. Since then, over 250 species of sauropods have been discovered, with many more waiting to be found. The sheer massiveness of these creatures continues to captivate paleontologists and scientists from all around the world, with newer revelations being uncovered with every expedition.

 

FAQs

 

How long can a sauropod live?

A sauropod likely lived between 50 to 100 years, with the exact number still debated among researchers. Life expectancy is usually calculated through the study of growth rings in dinosaur bones, but with certain species the bone rings may not be as clear. 

 

Do long-necked dinosaurs have teeth?

Yes, sauropods did sport many teeth, and if you're wondering What dinosaur has 500 teeth, the answer is the Nigersaurus ! As these dinosaurs were mostly herbivores that ate plants, they typically had peg-like teeth that were shaped like spoons. 

 

Did sauropods eat rocks?

Similar to modern-day birds and reptiles, long neck dinosaurs from hundreds of millions of years ago likely swallowed rocks and stones. These dinosaurs often did not chew their meals, choosing to swallow tons of vegetables whole instead. To aid in digestion, the dinosaurs likely swallowed stones as well. These stones were known as gastroliths, and they helped grind up tough, fibrous plant matter in the dinosaur’s stomach.

 

What is a long-necked dinosaur with a sail?

The Amargasaurus is a sauropod dinosaur that has distinct tail spines all over the back of its neck. Although many details surrounding their appearance remain an enigma, researchers like to imagine that these spines may have been connected to the skin on the dinosaur’s back, similar to a sail. 


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