Top 10

10‭ ‬-‭ ‬Vulcanodon

       For a long time Vulcanodon was regarded as the first appearance of a true sauropod as opposed to a sauropodomorph‭ (‬the ancestors of the sauropods‭)‬.‭ ‬Even though this is no longer the case,‭ ‬Vulcanodon is still one of the earliest occurrences,‭ ‬and one of the most primitive sauropods known,‭ ‬something that has helped palaeontologists to establish an evolutionary line for sauropod dinosaurs.

9‭ ‬-‭ ‬Shunosaurus

       Sauropod dinosaurs have long been presented as defenceless behemoths,‭ ‬relying upon size alone to deter attacks from predators.‭ ‬Shunosaurus however had something extra special,‭ ‬a club-like tail.‭ ‬This club could have been swung at anything that was to the sides or the rear of the animal,‭ ‬but might not have just been used against predators.‭ ‬It might just be as likely that the club may have been used in dominance contests such as two male Shunosaurus clobbering one another with their tails to become leader of a herd.

8‭ ‬-‭ ‬Nigersaurus

       Living in Northern Africa during the early Cretaceous,‭ ‬Nigersaurus was one of the most specialised sauropods that we know about.‭ ‬The front of the mouth was incredibly wide,‭ ‬almost twice the width of the posterior portion of the skull.‭ ‬Studies also show that the mouth of Nigersaurus would have faced more down instead of forwards.‭ ‬This meant that Nigersaurus could gather up proportionately large amounts of food with each bite,‭ ‬perhaps because Nigersaurus spent limited amounts of time feeding,‭ ‬so needed to eat food at a faster rate.

7‭ ‬-‭ ‬Rapetosaurus

       Rapetosaurus was one of the major studies concerning the field of titanosaur research since when it was described it included the most complete titanosaur skeleton ever discovered.‭ ‬This was of an eight meter long juvenile,‭ ‬though other less complete remains of adults suggest that Rapetosaurus attained sizes of around fifteen meters long when fully grown.‭ ‬Because so much of this titanosaur is known,‭ ‬it has been used as the benchmark in helping to recreate other titanosaur genera that are not known from such complete remains.

6‭ ‬-‭ ‬Amargasaurus

       Dinosaur toys of sauropod dinosaurs long had extra bits like spines added to them by toy manufacturers‭; ‬then palaeontologists actually found one‭! ‬Amargasaurus has now become famous around the world for the row of spines that ran down its neck and back,‭ ‬though there are various theories as to how they actually looked and were used.‭ ‬Early on the most popular idea was that the spines supported a sail of either skin or thin soft tissue,‭ ‬though today they are more commonly represented as just being spines standing upright.‭ ‬Although Amargasaurus lived at a time and place that saw the presence of large predatory theropod dinosaurs such as carcharodontosaurs,‭ ‬the spines may as equally served a display purpose as well as possible defence.‭ ‬They have even been speculated to be a form of rattle that an Amargasaurus would use to signal to others by shaking its neck.

5‭ ‬-‭ ‬Saltasaurus

       Whereas Shunosaurus above was proactive in its defence from predators,‭ ‬Saltasaurus took a different approach‭; ‬armour plating‭! ‬This armour plating took the form of osteoderms‭ (‬a.k.a.‭ ‬scutes‭)‬,‭ ‬plates of bone that were held in place just within the lower skin.‭ ‬These are expected to have formed a quite effective defence against the teeth of predatory dinosaurs such as the aforementioned carcharodontosaurs since their teeth were better at slicing flesh than cutting bone.
       Saltasaurus was a titanosaur,‭ ‬and the first one known to have had armoured skin.‭ ‬Since its discovery and description,‭ ‬other titanosaurs have been discovered to have had osteoderm armour,‭ ‬which has led to speculation that many more titanosaurs may have been armoured.

4‭ ‬-‭ ‬Argentinosaurus

       Named in‭ ‬1993,‭ ‬and only known from just a few bones from the post cranial skeleton,‭ ‬Argentinosaurus has risen fast in the popularity stakes because it represents one of the largest titanosaurs that have ever been discovered.‭ ‬The actual size of Argentinosaurus is still a matter of debate however,‭ ‬as the estimate you get for it depends upon which other genera you compare it to in order to fill in the gaps.‭ ‬Earlier reconstructions placed Argentinosaurus at around thirty to thirty-five meters in length,‭ ‬though later ones place it as smaller at around thirty meters long and even smaller at around twenty-five meters long.‭ ‬Despite this Argentinosaurus still gets put forward as the largest dinosaur in popular science works,‭ ‬though there are other contenders for that title...

3‭ ‬-‭ ‬Amphicoelias

       If you were impressed by the potential size of Argentinosaurus,‭ ‬then take a good look at Amphicoelias.‭ ‬Yet another discovery made in North America during the‭ ‘‬Bone Wars‭’ ‬Amphicoelias is recognised as possibly the largest dinosaur and land vertebrate to ever exist.‭ ‬There is a problem though,‭ ‬only a few bones such as the humerus were found,‭ ‬and despite their size,‭ ‬these are now lost to us.‭ ‬Nobody knows where they are,‭ ‬and only drawings of them exist,‭ ‬which makes only very rough estimates of the size of the whole animal possible.

2‭ ‬-‭ ‬Brachiosaurus

       The sauropod dinosaurs are usually recognised as being big and long,‭ ‬but Brachiosaurus by contrast was not so much long but tall.‭ ‬Brachiosaurus is the type genus of the Brachiosauridae,‭ ‬is of a type this is known as a macronarian,‭ ‬which all have a similar basic body plan.‭ ‬Brachiosaurus and relative genera are thought to be high browsers,‭ ‬eating the vegetation that grew far out of reach of other herbivores of the time such as stegosaurs,‭ ‬ornithopods and other types of sauropods.

1‭ ‬-‭ ‬Diplodocus

       Diplodocus is arguably the most popular sauropod dinosaur due in no small part to almost every dinosaur book of the twentieth century crediting it as the‭ ‘‬largest‭’ ‬dinosaur.‭ ‬Diplodocus was certainly very long,‭ ‬but it was also lightly built,‭ ‬and while length is sometimes used to measure how big animals are,‭ ‬weight is often the determining factor in deciding which animal was the biggest.
       There is now a whole group of sauropods known to be similar to Diplodocus which is the type genus of the Diplodocidae.‭ ‬These sauropods are thought to have been intermediate to low browers of vegetation,‭ ‬using their long necks to sweep their heads over a wide area without having to move their bodies.‭ ‬This also allowed these sauropods to co-exist with other types of sauropods.‭ ‬For example,‭ ‬Diplodocus is known to have co-existed with macronarians like the aforementioned Brachiosaurus.


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