Discovery of a short-necked sauropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic period of Patagonia.Nature. 2005 Jun 02; 435(7042):670-2.Nat
Sauropod dinosaurs are one of the most conspicuous groups of Mesozoic terrestrial vertebrates. They show general trends towards an overall increase in size and elongation of the neck, by means of considerable elongation of the length of individual vertebrae and a cervical vertebra count that, in some cases, increases to 19 (ref. 1). The long neck is a particular hallmark of sauropod dinosaurs and is usually regarded as a key feeding adaptation. Here we describe a new dicraeosaurid sauropod, from the latest Jurassic period of Patagonia, that has a particularly short neck. With a neck that is about 40% shorter than in other known dicraeosaurs, this taxon demonstrates a trend opposite to that seen in most sauropods and indicates that the ecology of dicraeosaurids might have differed considerably from that of other sauropods. The new taxon indicates that there was a rapid radiation and dispersal of dicraeosaurids in the Late Jurassic of the Southern Hemisphere, after the separation of Gondwana from the northern continents by the late Middle Jurassic.