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The mystery behind long-necked dinosaurs

UK researchers found that the sauropod was the longest-necked creature on Earth but that feat was never repeated in any other species.

dinosaur necksEnlarge
A new study shows why certain dinosaurs called sauropods had such long necks and why giraffes can't compete with it. (Ian Walton/Getty Images)

New research shows why certain dinosaurs had such long necks and why giraffes can't compete.

Researchers in the UK found that the sauropod was the longest-necked creature on Earth but that feat was never repeated in any other species in history.

Live Science pointedout that there are numerous species of sauropods, including the Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus and and the Brontosaurus.

"They were really stupidly, absurdly oversized," said lead researcher Michael Taylor, a vertebrate paleontologist, reported Live Science.

"In our feeble, modern world, we're used to thinking of elephants as big, but sauropods reached 10 times the size elephants do. They were the size of walking whales."

The researchers looked at the neck bones of the dinosaurs and the complex array of light bones and ligaments that held it up and allowed blood to reach the head.

The dinosaurs also had giant torsos that anchored the body no matter how long their head was, said Science World Report.

Sauropods apparently had up to 19 neck vertebrae, far more than giraffes which have about seven.

Giraffe's also have much smaller torsos that could not support a longer neck than about eight feet, reported the Columbus Dispatch.

What both animals have in common is their evolutionary need for a long neck to grab leaves.

Their long necks also make sure they don't have to move their large bodies very much at all when grazing.

Live Science also said that paleontologists have suggested the long necks may have even been sexually attractive to possible mates.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/130225/the-mystery-behind-long-necked-dinosaurs