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Why some dinosaurs had such long necks

November 18, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The largest animals to ever walk the Earth were sauropods -- long-necked dinosaurs that could grow the length of three school buses. Their huge size was likely a response to a shift in climate 180 million years ago, new research suggests.

A team of paleontologists has discovered one of the earliest known large sauropods, and plant fossils in the rock layers surrounding the dinosaur fossil provide evidence of the climate and ecosystem in which the newly identified species of dinosaur lived.

The sauropod's huge size, was likely a response to a shift in climate 180 million years ago during the early Jurassic period, the new research has suggested.

In particular, it was the change in vegetation in a harsher climate that led to the extinction of most sauropods.

They would have enabled them to reach the tall conifers and allowed them to access different plants without moving their huge bodies, Pol said.

Giant animals also produce a lot of body heat, and other studies have suggested that their long neck could dissipate body heat -- a bit like the big ears of modern elephants, Pol explained.

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