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Discovery and Classification
Terrible Lizards Discovered | Classification | Saurischia
Iguanodontia | Sauropodomorpha | Theropoda | Ornithischia
Marginocephalia | Ceratopsia | Pachycephalosauria
Ornithopoda | Thyreophora | Stegosauria | Ankylosauria

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Sauropodomorpha (sawr-oh-POH-dah-more-fah) is the suborder of massive, quadrupedal herbivores with extremely long necks and tails. Sauropodomorpha can be divided further into prosauropods and sauropods. Among the sauropods were the largest land animals ever known: Seismosaurus, Diplodocus, Apatosaurus (popularly known as Brontosaurus), and others. Only the modern blue whale is larger than these creatures; no land animal comes close. And the recent discovery of Argentinasaurus, with a vertabrae over six feet across, may mean that these dinosaurs were even larger than the blue whale.

The long neck of sauropods gave them a very long view of danger approaching; it also enabled them to feed from foliage that no other herbivores could reach. In addition, some think that the sauropods, even the largest, could sit back on their tails, raising their front legs off the ground. This posture would have given them an even greater reach for food.

It is thought that sauropods did not chew their food. Although sauropods had teeth, they were ill-suited for grinding; therefore, it is thought that Sauropods swallowed small stones, or gastroliths, to grind the food they swallowed. (Many modern birds, such as chickens, do the same.)

The ratio of the sauropods' brain capacity to their body size is incredibly small: they may have been good at eating and watching for predators, but they were not particularly intelligent. For that matter, neither are modern herbivores. Predators seem to need and have greater brain power.

Dinosaur trackways suggest that sauropods lived and traveled in herds. It was once thought that because of their massive bulk (200,000 pounds (90,700 kg) for Seismosaurus) sauropods spent their lives immersed in shallow lakes, so that the water could buoy up their bodies. This idea has been discarded; it has been demonstrated that the pressure of the water would have collapsed their lungs. Sauropods were land animals, perfectly capable of supporting their weight on dry land.

While evidence suggests that theropods may have been warm-blooded, it is harder to argue the same for sauropods. A warm-blooded creature of 200,000 pounds (90,700 kg) would have to eat incredible amounts of food to maintain its metabolism, but if it were cold-blooded, its nutritional requirements would be much less.

Sauropods may have been gigantothermic; that is, their bodies were huge and could not lose heat from the surface of their bodies as fast as it was produced inside.

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