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Supersaurus

Supersaurus, a genus of sauropods, were one of the largest dinosaurs ever to walk the earth. It lived approximately 153 million years ago and its fossils were first discovered in Colorado in the upper Jurassic Morrison Formation in 1972.

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Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Reptilia
Clade Dinosauria
Order Saurischia
Suborder Sauropodomorpha
Clade Neosauropoda
Family Diplodocidae
Sub-family Diplodocinae
Genus Supersaurus
Species S. viviane

Quick Facts

Name Meaning Super Lizard
Geological Period Tithonian (Late Jurassic Epoch)
Size 33-34 m
Weight 35 – 40 tons
Average Lifespan 100 years
Location/Distribution Colorado, Portugal
Diet Herbivore
Birth Type (Reproduction) Eggs
Locomotion Quadrupedal

History and Discovery

Their fossils were discovered in 1972 from the Dry Mesa Quarry and the exploration uncovered few bones including the shoulder girdle, as well as parts of the hip bone (ischium) and tail vertebrate. James A Jensen, a Paleontologist labeled the specimen in 1973, and later termed it as ‘Supersaurus.’ After more than a decade, it got officially recognized in 1985.

In 1996, a complete specimen was found in Wyoming and nicknamed ‘Jimbo,’which in 2007 was assigned to the genus Supersaurus. The Wyoming Dinosaur Centre now showcases a complete reconstruction of the specimen.

Physical Description

The Supersaurus looked like a whip-tailed giant that was 33 to 34 m long while its neck measured approximately 12 m. Studies indicate that its long neck may have had limited mobility. It had four legs each with five toes, just like elephants and its front legs were shorter than its back legs.

It is also believed that Supersaurus used its long whipped tail and thumb claws for defending themselves against predators.

Diet

For sustenance, Supersaurus used to rely only on plants. They had gastroliths inside their stomachs which helped in easy breakdown and digestion of large foliage. Most of the herbivores had blunt teeth, useful for stripping leaves.

Behavior

Supersaurus used to travel in herds and migrate from one place to other when their local food supply became scarce. A linear pattern of laying eggs had been noticed, which indicates that they used to lay eggs while walking. It has also been assumed that sauropods did not take good care of their eggs so, most of the eggs couldn’t survive.

Interesting Facts

  • Because of Supersaurus’ enormous size, going deep inside the forest was not possible. Hence they used their long, elongated neck to get foliage.
  • Their long neck may have enabled the sauropods to eat soft pteridophytes (horsetails, ferns, etc.) on the marshy ground, where venturing was quite impossible because of their massive weight.
  • Though the Supersaurus were not the heaviest, they would have weighed as much as five African elephants.

Published on January 18th 2017 by under Dinosaurs.
Article was last reviewed on 18th January 2017.

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