Giant Dinos 'Held Heads High'
Study suggests museums wrongly show sauropods slouching forward
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2009 5:36 AM CDT
This Diplodicus skeleton would be more accurately assembled if its head was towering toward the museum roof, some paleontologists argue.   (©tom )?()
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Giant dinosaurs like Diplodicus and Apatosaurus spent most of their time with their incredibly lengthy necks held tall like giraffes instead of slouching forward as seen in most museum reconstructions, according to a new study. Reseachers compared the bones of sauropods with mammals and birds, the only modern animals that share dinosaurs' upright leg position, and decided the gigantic herbivores must have been "strongly inclined" vertically.

"Our approach was embarrassingly straightforward," said the paleontologist who led the study. "We looked at real animals, and at the whole animal." He believes the soft tissue in the dinosaurs' necks must have enabled "greater flexibility than the bones alone suggest." Some scientists disagree with the findings, arguing that holding their heads dozens of feet in the air would have put a huge strain on sauropods' hearts to pump blood to the brain.