Described as 'feats of engineering', the largest sauropod dinosaurs weighed close to 100 tonnes - ten times the record weight of a modern elephant. Sauropods therefore include the largest land animals ever to have lived. They were a very successful herbivorous group, arising in the early Jurassic and surviving for around 100 million years. Fossil footprints show that sauropod dinosaurs travelled in herds. Notable sauropods include Diplodocus, Apatosaurus (formerly Brontosaurus) and the record-breaking heavyweight Argentinosaurus.
Scientific name: Sauropoda
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Sauropoda (pron.: /sɔːˈrɒpɵdə/), or the sauropods (/ˈsɔrəpɒd/), are an infraorder of saurischian ("lizard-hipped") dinosaurs. They had long necks, long tails, small heads (in comparison to the rest of their body), and thick, pillar-like legs. They are notable for the enormous sizes attained by some species, and the group includes the largest animals to have ever lived on land. Well-known genera include Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, and Apatosaurus (which, under current classification, is a senior synonym of Brontosaurus). Sauropods first appeared in the late Triassic Period, where they somewhat resembled the closely related (and possibly ancestral) group Prosauropoda. By the Late Jurassic (150 million years ago), sauropods had become widespread (especially the diplodocids and brachiosaurids). By the Late Cretaceous, those groups had mainly been replaced by the titanosaurs, which had a near-global distribution. However, as with all other non-avian dinosaurs, the titanosaurs died out in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Fossilised remains of sauropods have been found on every continent, including Antarctica.
The name Sauropoda was coined by O.C. Marsh in 1878, and is derived from Greek, meaning "lizard foot". Sauropods are one of the most recognizable groups of dinosaurs, and have become a fixture in popular culture due to their large sizes.
Complete sauropod fossil finds are rare. Many species, especially the largest, are known only from isolated and disarticulated bones. Many near-complete specimens lack heads, tail tips and limbs.
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