© Kent Stevens, University of Oregon
The ears of an elephant, the hump of a camel, the long necks and even longer tails of the huge, plant-eating dinosaurs called sauropods are features that make us curious. What are these unusual body parts good for? What purpose, we wonder, could they serve?
Once, the sauropod answer seemed simple: people thought that these enormous animals stretched their long necks to nibble on tall trees. Sometimes, we supposed, they even stood on their hind legs to feed, steadying their bulky bodies with massive tails.
But today, thanks to highly accurate computer simulations of dinosaur motion, scientists are starting to learn a different story. Sauropods were amazing, but many weren't nearly as acrobatic as we once imagined.