|Name Meaning||“Heavy Lizard”||Height||12 meters (39 feet)|
|Pronunciation||buh-ROH-sawr-uhs||Length||25–27 m (82–89 feet)|
|Era||Mesozoic — Late Jurassic||Weight||12–20 metric tons (26,455–44,092 lbs)|
|Classification||Dinosauria, Saurischia, & Sauropoda||Location||USA (North America)|
Barosaurus was a giant sauropod dinosaur that lived in North America during the Late Jurassic period.
Nicknamed “the heavy-lizard” due to its long neck, this dinosaur is one of the largest land animals to have ever walked the planet.
But arguably, the most notable feature of this dinosaur was its long neck.
Barosaurus had one of the longest necks of any dinosaur and also had a long tail to match.
The first Barosaurus fossils were discovered as far back as 1889 but weren’t fully described until about three decades after the first excavation.
This colossal sauropod is one of several massive dinosaurs that roamed the planet millions of years ago.
Towering over its contemporaries by several feet, Barosaurus stands as a testament to the awe-inspiring wonders of the ancient worlds of the dinosaurs.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the fascinating facts about this unique dinosaur.
Barosaurus belonged to the Sauropoda group of dinosaurs.
Members of this group are known for their unusually long necks paired with long tails and small heads.
The Barosaurus’ anatomical feature follows this configuration as well.
It is often compared to the Diplodocus, one of the most popular members of the sauropod group.
Like many other sauropods, Barosaurus was a massive dinosaur.
Scientists estimate that adult Barosaurus dinosaurs were as much as 25 to 27 meters (82–89 feet) in length and may have weighed between 12 and 20 metric tons.
Barosaurus was similar to Diplodocus in a lot of ways.
But this dinosaur featured a significantly longer neck with a shorter tail.
Although both dinosaurs had the same number of bones in their necks, each of the Barosaurus’ cervical vertebrae was longer than that of the Diplodocus.
The neck was about 30 ft long, which means it was roughly 40% of the dinosaur’s overall length.
Another remarkable difference between Barosaurus and Diplodocus was that it had proportionately longer forelimbs.
Although no cranial bones belonging to this dinosaur have been found so far, scientists believe it had a small head, similar to that of other sauropods.
On the other end, Barosaurus’ tail ended in a whip-lash, which the dinosaur may have used to fend off predators.
Despite the massive size of this dinosaur, some experts believe it was able to stand on its hind legs.
It was quadrupedal, but it may have occasionally supported its weight on its hind legs to reach the top of tall plants while feeding.
The columnar limbs of this dinosaur were massive, which allowed them to support the enormous bulk of this dinosaur.
In 1990, scientists found fossils of a diplodocid dinosaur with some skin impressions.
While this belonged to another dinosaur other than the Barosaurus, we can assume that the heavy lizard’s skin was similar.
The skin was scaly and had tiny spines similar to an iguana.
Some parts of the dinosaur, such as the “whiplash” at the end of its tail, may have had longer spines than the rest of the body.
Due to the limited fossil record for this dinosaur, there are still some unanswered anatomical questions.
For instance, scientists are still trying to understand how blood circulation would have worked in such long-necked dinosaurs.
This has led to speculations that this dinosaur may have had more than one heart to improve the efficiency of blood flow to its extremities.
Habitat and Distribution
Barosaurus was alive during the Late Jurassic period, approximately 155 to 150 million years ago.
Although there have been reports of Barosaurus fossil discoveries in places like Africa and Europe, the only confirmed fossils of this dinosaur were found in North America.
Thus, its geographic range may have been limited to present-day North America, particularly Western United States.
The area where this dinosaur was found was once covered by an ancient sea known as the Sundance Sea back in the Jurassic.
However, this sea was already receding northward around the time the Barosaurus evolved.
North America was significantly warmer during the Late Jurrasic thanks to high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The warm temperatures, coupled with the rain shadow effect due to the terrain of the area, meant the typical range of the Barosaurus had a semi-arid climate with seasonal rainfall.
The fertile floodplain and complex river systems in the area supported abundant vegetation, which would have served as food for the diverse dinosaur populations found in the area.
Unstable climatic conditions in the region may have brought about seasonal variations that affected the availability of water and food.
Behavior and Diet
Barosaurus, like other sauropods, walked on all four legs.
Its limbs were sturdy and columnar, which made them strong enough to support its immense weight and allowed quadrupedal movement.
However, the massive size of this dinosaur suggests that it was incapable of quick motion.
Instead, it moved gracefully while keeping its long neck and tail in a sweeping arc.
Most depictions show this dinosaur with its neck raised high.
However, recent studies suggest that Barosarus probably held its neck parallel to the ground while browsing on short plants and low vegetation.
That’s because the structure of the dinosaur’s cervical vertebrae allowed limited vertical flexibility but allowed a significant amount of lateral flexibility.
Barosaurus was a herbivorous dinosaur with a specialized diet.
It had peg-like teeth for nipping leaves from the trees but would have swallowed them whole since it didn’t have dentition for processing the plant matter in its mouth.
Barosaurus fed on a variety of plants, including ferns, cycads, conifers, and possibly some early flowering plants that were available during the Jurassic.
Given the enormous size of Barosaurus, it would have needed to consume a significant amount of vegetation to meet its energy needs.
Due to limited direct fossil evidence, the social behavior of Barosaurus isn’t well-known.
However, based on the behavior of other sauropods, scientists speculate that the Barosaurus would have exhibited some basic gregarious tendencies.
They most likely lived in small herds or loose groups.
This would have provided some level of protection against predators and facilitated mating opportunities.
Very little is known about the sexual attributes and reproduction of Barosaurus.
However, it’s safe to assume that it reproduced sexually like other sauropod dinosaurs.
Since they exhibit some level of social behavior, mating probably involved the selection of mates within their social group.
After mating, female Barosaurus would have laid large eggs, buried in communal nests on the ground.
It isn’t certain if this dinosaur protected their nesting site, incubated their eggs, or cared for juveniles.
Barosaurus juveniles emerged from their eggs, relatively small and vulnerable.
They would have undergone rapid growth during their early years, fueled by a diet consisting primarily of vegetation.
Sauropods, including Barosaurus, exhibited a phenomenon known as indeterminate growth, which means they continued to grow throughout their lives, albeit at a slower rate as they reached adulthood.
Their growth pattern was also allometric, which means some body parts would grow at a faster rate than other body parts.
This would have allowed their length to grow to such colossal lengths in contrast to the rest of their body.
Evolution and History
Barosaurus belongs to the family Diplodocidae, a group of long-necked and long-tailed herbivorous sauropods that thrived during the Late Jurassic period.
Within this family, Barosaurus is classified in the subfamily Diplodocinae, along with other popular dinosaurs like Diplodocus and Apatosaurus.
Throughout its evolutionary history, Barosaurus and its close relatives underwent a series of morphological adaptations.
These changes are evident in their skeletal structures and body proportions.
For instance, members of the Diplodocidae family. are known for their elongated neck and tail, which became increasingly elongated and slender in later members.
The ancestors of the sauropods emerged as small bipedal dinosaurs as early as the Late Triassic.
This gave rise to the bigger and more specialized sauropods that dominated the Jurassic and remained the most dominant dinosaur group until the Cretaceous period.
Different theories have been put forward to explain how dinosaurs evolved long necks.
One theory was that it was a feeding adaptation that allowed them to reach tall plants that would normally be beyond their reach.
Another theory suggests that rather than feeding on foliage on top of tall trees, the long necks allowed the dinosaurs to graze on large swaths of vegetation close to the ground without moving about too much due to their size.
Some experts also think the long neck was a sort of sexual adaptation, with females favoring males with longer necks.
Interactions With Other Species
The Morrison Formation, where fossils of the Barosaurus were found, had a rich flora that supported diverse types of dinosaurs.
The dense forest in this region served as an abundant food source for different groups of herbivorous dinosaurs like Barosaurus and its contemporaries.
These tall sauropods may have browsed on leaves from tall trees, while the smaller ones fed on lower vegetation.
The herbivores discovered in the Morrison Formation so far include long-necked sauropods like Diplodocus, Apatosaurus, and Camarasaurus.
They were the primary consumers in this ecosystem, but they would have coexisted with several other herbivore dinosaur groups occupying different niches within the food web.
This includes ornithischians like Camptosaurus, Stegosaurus, Othnielosaurus, and Dryosaurus.
Having an abundant population of herbivores also meant there were several predators around.
The region was also home to a diverse array of other organisms.
Fossil discoveries have revealed the presence of flying reptiles such as pterosaurs, small mammals, turtles, crocodilians, and an assortment of fish species.
Barosaurus has played a crucial role in scientific research, particularly in advancing our understanding of sauropod dinosaurs and the ecosystems they inhabited.
Fossil discoveries of the Barosaurus and its relatives have provided valuable insights into the biology, anatomy, and evolutionary history of these massive creatures.
For instance, diplodocid dinosaurs were generally believed to be high-grazers, able to feed from the top of trees with their long necks.
However, the discovery of the Barosaurus suggests that this was not a general attribute of all long-necked dinosaurs, as earlier thought.
Experts now think that many of these dinosaurs may have grazed instead, holding their long necks close to the ground to feed on plants around.
The study of the skeletal structure and biomechanics of Barosaurus has shed light on the mechanics of the long neck and tail of some dinosaur groups, helping scientists understand how these adaptations allowed for efficient foraging and movement.
Furthermore, the analysis of Barosaurus fossils has expanded our knowledge of Late Jurassic ecosystems.
It has provided a much-needed glimpse into the diverse array of organisms that coexisted with these giant dinosaurs and the possible interconnectedness of their respective ecological niches.
Long-necked dinosaurs like Barosaurus have long captured the imagination of people, and they have several iconic representations in popular culture.
Even though the Barosaurus may not have been featured in movies and other popular media, relatives like the Diplodocus are very well-known.
The colossal size, long neck, and sweeping tail of this dinosaur have made it a favorite among dinosaur enthusiasts, appearing in books, films, and various forms of media.
Barosaurus is one of several sauropod dinosaurs discovered in North America during the “Wild West Dinosaur Hunts” of the late 19th century.
Yet, all evidence shows that we’re just starting to scratch the surface of our knowledge of the long-necked dinosaurs.
As ongoing research and new discoveries continue to push the boundaries of what we know about the ancient worlds of the dinosaurs, colossal dinosaurs like the Barosaurus remind us of just how majestic that ancient world was.
Scientifically, unique dinosaurs like Barosaurus also play a vital role in expanding and reshaping our understanding of different groups of dinosaurs, their anatomy, and the way they lived.
Did Barosaurus have eight hearts?
There is no direct evidence that Barosaurus had eight hearts.
However, due to the massive size of this dinosaur and its long neck, some scientists believe the only way it would have been able to sustain blood flow to its extremities was if it had multiple hearts.
Is Barosaurus the longest dinosaur?
No. While Barosaurus is a worthy contender for the longest dinosaur ever discovered, it isn’t the longest.
Based on available evidence, the longest dinosaur ever discovered is the Supersaurus, which reached lengths of about 105–138 feet.
How did Barosaurus defend itself?
Like the Diplodocus and other sauropod dinosaurs, Barosaurus used its whip-like tail to fend off predators and protect itself.
The dinosaur could swing its tail at predators, which would have produced significant force.
Jerry Young is a self-proclaimed prehistoric animal nerd. He has been fascinated with these ancient creatures for as long as he can remember, and his passion for them continues to this day. With his extensive knowledge and love for prehistoric animals, he is the perfect fit for Gage Beasley Prehistoric.