Dinosaurs Inside and Out

Growing Bones

What were unique skeletal features of large sauropods?

There were a number of unique skeletal features of large sauropods that evolved mostly to support their massive size and weight. These dinosaurs were similar in construction to a suspension bridge: the front and rear legs acted as underlying supports for the backbone; in turn, the backbone was supported from above by ligaments and muscles of the back. The vertebrae of the backbone were joined together so the neck, back, and tail were bent slightly upwards at the ends, spreading the massive weight toward the ends.

The top leg bone was shaped to swing underneath the body. The knee was constructed so the leg could move back and forth, similar to the knee of humans. The ankle had very limited movement, with no possible sideways motion. These and other skeletal features helped the large sauropods to support and move their tremendous bulk.


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