sauropod


sauropod
/sawr"euh pod'/, n.
1. any herbivorous dinosaur of the suborder Sauropoda, from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, having a small head, long neck and tail, and five-toed limbs: the largest known land animal.
adj.
2. belonging or pertaining to the sauropods.
[1890-95; < NL Sauropoda suborder name < Gk saûro(s) lizard + -poda -PODA; cf. -POD]

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Any species of four-legged, herbivorous, saurischian dinosaur in the suborder Sauropoda.

The sauropods include the largest of all dinosaurs and the largest land animals that ever lived. They existed from the Late Triassic Epoch into the Cretaceous Period (227–65 million years ago). All species had a small head, extremely long neck, massive body, thick, pillarlike legs, and a very long, tapering, whiplike tail. With their weak, sparse teeth, they cropped vegetation from even the tallest trees, apparently depending on swallowed stones or bacteria in the gut to digest plant matter. Species ranged from 50 ft (15 m) long to the 98-ft (30-m) Brachiosaurus, which weighed 80 metric tons. See also Brontosaurus; Diplodocus; theropod.

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▪ dinosaur infraorder
 any member of the dinosaur subgroup Sauropoda, marked by large size, a long neck and tail, a four-legged stance, and a herbivorous diet. These reptiles (reptile) were the largest of all dinosaurs and the largest land animals that ever lived.

      Sauropods shared a body plan consisting of: a small head on an extremely long neck; a long, massive body housing an enormous gut; thick, pillarlike legs to support the torso; and a very long tapering, often whiplike tail. A massive hip girdle was fused to the backbone, usually by five sacral vertebrae; this arrangement provided solid support for the body and tail. The backbone itself was hollowed out at the sides, which thus reduced its weight while retaining structural strength. Sauropods were once thought to have spent their time wallowing in shallow water that would help support their ponderous bodies, but considerable evidence indicates that they were better equipped for living on solid ground. The animals' long necks enabled them to take foliage from even the tallest trees in somewhat the same manner as do modern giraffes (giraffe). Their teeth tended to be spoon-shaped or pencil-shaped, and they apparently depended on swallowed stones or bacteria in the gut to help break down the plant matter they ate.

 Sauropods and theropods (theropod) were saurischian dinosaurs. The sauropods evolved into several major subgroups: Cetiosauridae, Brachiosauridae (including Brachiosaurus (brachiosaur)), Camarasauridae (including Camarasaurus), Diplodocidae (including Diplodocus and Apatosaurus), and Titanosauridae. The smaller sauropods reached a length of up to 15 metres (50 feet), while larger species such as Apatosaurus (formerly known as Brontosaurus) routinely reached lengths of 21 metres. Brachiosaurus was one of the largest and most massive of all known dinosaurs, reaching a length of 30 metres and a weight of 80 metric tons; Seismosaurus, a titanosaurid, may have exceeded 40 metres in length.

      Sauropods first evolved in the Early Jurassic Period (200 million to 176 million years ago). They became gigantic and highly diverse in the Late Jurassic Period (161 million to 146 million years ago) and persisted into the Cretaceous Period (146 million to 66 million years ago).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • sauropod — /ˈsɔrəpɒd/ (say sawruhpod) noun 1. any of the Sauropoda, a group of herbivorous dinosaurs with a small head, and long neck and tail; the largest known land animals. –adjective 2. of or relating to a sauropod. {New Latin sauropoda, from Greek… …   Australian English dictionary

  • sauropod — noun A member of the Sauropoda suborder of dinosaurs …   Wiktionary

  • sauropod — [ sɔ:rəpɒd, saʊr ] noun an apatosaurus, brachiosaurus, or similar huge herbivorous dinosaur with a long neck and tail and massive limbs. Origin C19: from mod. L. Sauropoda (plural), from Gk sauros lizard + pous, pod foot …   English new terms dictionary

  • sauropod — sau·ro·pod …   English syllables

  • sauropod — sau•ro•pod [[t]ˈsɔr əˌpɒd[/t]] n. 1) pal any of various huge, plant eating saurischian dinosaurs, of the suborder Sauropoda, including the brontosaur and brachiosaur, that had small heads, very long necks and tails, and columnar limbs 2) pal of… …   From formal English to slang

  • sauropod — n. any of a group of plant eating dinosaurs with a long neck and tail, and four thick limbs. Etymology: Gk saura lizard + pous pod foot …   Useful english dictionary

  • sauropod dinosaur — noun very large herbivorous dinosaur of the Jurassic and Cretaceous having a small head a long neck and tail and five toed limbs; largest known land animal • Syn: ↑sauropod • Hypernyms: ↑saurischian, ↑saurischian dinosaur • Hyponyms: ↑apatosaur,… …   Useful english dictionary


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