Dinosaurs that have long necks belong to the clade of plant-eating dinosaurs known as sauropods. Sauropods are known for their characteristics like long neck, similarly long tails, thick bodies, and powerful tree trunk-like legs. Some of the largest animals to ever walk the land belong to the sauropods, and well-known sauropods include Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus.
Sauropods appeared in the late Triassic period and existed until the great extinction that occurred after the late Cretaceous period. Let’s take a closer look at some of the long-necked sauropods that existed during the era of the dinosaurs.
“Dinosaurs may be extinct from the face of the planet, but they are alive and well in our imaginations.” — Steve Miller
Long Neck Dinosaur: Alamosaurus
The Alamosaurus is believed to have weighed around 33 tons and measured some 69 feet long. It was initially discovered in the Ojo Alamo Formation, which is a geologic formation that covers the region near Kirtland Shale, New Mexico. It is from the formation that the dinosaur gets its name. The Alamosaurus lived approximately 70 million to 65 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous, going extinct during the Cretaceous mass extinction event of the Mesozoic era.
Long Neck Dinosaur: Argentinosaurus
Argentinosaurus is arguably the longest and heaviest land animal to ever have lived on Earth. It is estimated that the dinosaur weighed between 66 – 97 tons and was around 30 – 35 meters (98 – 118 feet) in length. The creature hatched from an egg that seems impossibly small for its size, the size of a football. The dinosaur was discovered in Argentina and named after the region. The dinosaur lived in the late Cretaceous period some 97 to 93.5 million years ago.
Long Neck Dinosaur: Apatosaurus
The Apatosaurus is believed to have lived around 150 million years ago during the Late Jurassic era. The dinosaur was discovered in the Morrison Formation, a geological formation that covers what is now parts of Oklahoma, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado in the US. Most estimates of the dinosaur’s size place the dinosaurs somewhere between 21 – 22.8 m (69–75 ft) long with a weight of 16.4 – 22.4 tons. The apatosaurus’ skull is more similar to that of the diplodocus than other sauropods like the Camarasaurus, and it was frequently confused with skulls of other dinosaurs like the Apatosaurus and the Brachiosaurus.
“As soon as I saw it, I decided I was going to spend the rest of my life studying dinosaurs.” — Robert T. Bakker
Long Neck Dinosaur: Brachiosaurus
Arguably one of the most famous dinosaurs in the world, the Brachiosaurus lived during the Late Jurassic era around 154 to 153 million years ago. Like the Apatosaurus, it was discovered in the Morrison Formation. The length of the Brachiosaurus is estimated at around 20 to 21 m or 66 to 69 feet, and it’s weight estimated somewhere between 35 metric tons to 58 metric tons. Part of the uncertainty about the size of the dinosaur comes from the fact that the most complete specimen is likely a juvenile. The neck of the Brachiosaurus is believed to be composed of 13 long cervical vertebrae, and this long neck allowed it to reach vegetation that was possibly as high as 9 meters (30 feet) off the ground.
Long Neck Dinosaur: Camarasaurus
Camarasaurus roughly translates to “chambered lizard”, which is in reference to the fact that the Camarasaurus’ vertebrae have large holes or chambers in them. The Camarasaurus lived somewhere between 155 to 145 mya, during the Late Jurassic era, and like the Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus, it was discovered in the Morrison Formation. The Camarasaurus are some of the better-preserved sauropod specimens, which enables more accurate estimations. It is estimated that the dinosaurs had a length of somewhere around 23 m or 75, and a weight of around 51 tons (at least for the largest species of the genus, C. supremus).
Long Neck Dinosaur: Diplodocus
Diplodocus translates from neo-Latin as a “double beam” and it is in reference to the dinosaur’s double-beamed chevrons (bones located on the bottom of the tail in many reptiles). The dinosaur lived in the late Jurassic era, between 104 million years ago to 152 million years ago. It was found in the Morrison formation alongside dinosaurs like Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, and Camarasaurus. The Diplodocus was astonishingly long and is amongst the longest known dinosaurs. Estimates place the total length of the dinosaur at around 24 m or 79 feet in length, with a weight of approximately 12 metric tons. The dinosaur’s extremely long tail was made out of caudal vertebrae, around 80 in total and there are speculations as to the function of the spiny, whip-like tail. The tail’s length could have served to counterbalance the weight of the neck, while the spines on it could have served a defensive purpose.
Long Neck Dinosaur: Haplocanthosaurus
The Haplocanthosaurus was actually quite small, as far sauropods go. It was discovered in the lowest layer of the Morrison Formation and believed to have lived around 155 million years ago to 152 million years ago. Estimates of the specimens retrieved from the Morrison formation put the dinosaur at around 14.8 m or 50 feet long, and around 12.8 metric tons in weight. Phylogenetic attempts to determine the relationship between Haplocanthosaurus and its other sauropod brethren are inconclusive, with some studies finding it to be a primitive macronarian (more primitive than other sauropods), and others suggesting that it could be a primitive diplodocoid and closer to the Diplodocus in nature.
Long Neck Dinosaur: Opisthocoelicaudia
Opisthocoelicaudia is a type of sauropod that lived during the Late Cretaceous period around 70 million years ago. The dinosaurs were discovered in Mongolia in part of the Gobi desert. The dinosaur could have been closely related to the Alamosaurus, though it is considered a member of the Titanosauria. Opisthocoelicaudia is on the small side for sauropods, weighing in at somewhere between 8.4 to 22 tons and being between 11.4 m (or 37 feet) to 13 m (43 feet) in length. The genus is lacking a skull for the specimens, with the best specimen being a fairly well-preserved skeleton lacking the neck and head.
“I found my first dinosaur bone when I was 6, growing up in Montana. Ever since then, I’ve been interested in dinosaurs.” — Jack Horner
Long Neck Dinosaur: Saltasaurus
Saltasaurus is distinct among other sauropods for its stubby limbs and its rather short neck (as far as sauropods go). It lived during the Late Cretaceous area around 70 million years ago. The dinosaur was discovered in the Lecho Formation in Argentina. Though still quite large compared to most animals today, the sauropod was small for members of the clade. It is estimated that the dinosaur was somewhere around 12.8 m or 42 feet in length, and weighed approximately seven tons. There is a preserved Saltasau egg displayed for visitors at Utah’s North American Museum of Ancient Life.