The idea of an animal with a neck longer than a two-car bus might sound like a creature from the latest sci-fi movie.
But a new fossil discovery has shown that such an animal was once a reality in the form of a dinosaur that roamed China 162 million years ago.
In fact, paleontologists say that the sauropod, or Late Jurassic sauropod known as Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum, probably had the longest neck of any animal ever found, at 49 feet (15 meters) long.
This made it six times the length of a giraffe’s neck and 1.5 times the length of a two-car bus.
The discovery comes as part of research into the evolutionary history of the Mamenchisauridae, a family of long-necked sauropod dinosaurs that roamed East Asia and possibly other parts of the world from about 174 million to 114 million years ago.
Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum was one such dinosaur.
The fossilized remains of the creature were discovered in 162-million-year-old rocks in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in 1987.
And in sauropods like Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum, a long neck was one of the main factors that made them so massive.
And his long neck was necessary and vital for gathering plants and eating, to maintain his large size, as it allowed him to stand in one place and graze the surrounding plants. This allowed her to save energy by consuming tons of food.
And this way of life proved to be very successful, allowing this kind of dinosaur to flourish.
In fact, the sauropod lineage originated early in dinosaur history and lasted about 162 million years before the cataclysmic asteroid impact that wiped out most Jurassic creatures, with the exception of modern bird relatives, about 66 million years ago.
In addition, paleontologists believe that the neck also helped dinosaurs like Mamenchisaurus get rid of excess body heat, just like elephants do with their ears, making their sheer size viable.
However, they have long tried to answer the question of which sauropods had the longest necks, because the largest of these species tends to be the least known. This is because it is very difficult to bury an animal of this size in sediment, which is the initial stage required for a fossil to form.
Therefore, the poor preservation of such huge dinosaurs makes neck length estimates speculative.
And while Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum is only known from a handful of neck and skull bones, scientists have been able to compare it to the unusually complete skeletons of its closest relatives.
This allowed them to conclude that the neck length of Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum was about 49 feet (15.1 meters), which was the longest neck of any known sauropod.
Source: Daily Mail
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