Plateosaurus by Todd Marshall (2004)


Cladogram courtesy of T.Holtz Jr 2004 (


These animals were the predecessors of the sauropods. Early prosauropods were partially bipedal, with functional hands, but once they reached the great sizes found in later forms, they were obligate quadrupeds. The teeth retained the primitive serration, a feature lost in the sauropods. The prosauropods died out in the Middle Jurassic.

Plateosaurus skeleton by P. Olsen (2004) based upon Galton (1990), Cranial photo by P.M. Galton



Diplodocus by P. Olsen (2004) based upon Hatcher (1901)

The sauropods were completely quadrupedal, and they include the largest land animals ever. They were herbivores, and thrived throughout the Jurassic, diminishing in numbers during the Cretaceous. Some forms had body armour, and other physical defenses. Shunosaurus had a club-like tail, while others used their long tails in a whip-like fashion, which has also been hypothesized to have been used for communication. Some species of sauropods lived in herds, as suggested by multiple sets of trackways made by many animals.


Cladogram courtesy of T.Holtz Jr 2004 (


Diplodocus carnegii by Todd Marshall (2004)


  • Rebbachisauridae - Teeth very similar to hadrosaurs
  • Dicraeosauridae - Shorter necks than other diplodocoids, very tall spines on the neck (Example : Amargasaurus)
  • Diplodocidae - Very long necks, and long thinner skulls than other diplodocoids (Examples: Diplodocus, Apatasaurus)

Apatosaurus louisae by Todd Marshall (2004)

(2) MACRONARIANS ("big noses")


Brachiosaurus by P.Olsen (2004) based on Paul (1988), skull based on McIntosh (1990)


Argentinosaurus and Giganotosaurus by Todd Marshall (2004)


Author: Emma Schachner
Last updated: 13 November 2004
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Websites produced by students on the MSc Palaeobiology programme in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol for academic year 2003-4