10 Long-Necked Facts About Mamenchisaurus

China’s overstuffed with awesome dinosaurs, and today we’re taking a look at one of their most famous.

1. Mamenchisaurus Necks Would’ve Made Giraffes Feel Self-Conscious

Mamenchisaurus necks approaching 30 feet in length have been documented, and one poorly-known species—M. sinocanadorum—is believed to have had nearly 50 feet separating its head from its shoulders. Let’s put that in perspective, shall we?  Regulation NFL goalposts have an 18’6” gap between their uprights. The largest (reliably) documented great white shark measured 19.5 feet from end to end. The average giraffe boasts a 6-foot neck. Meanwhile, yours is probably only around 10-12 inches long. How pathetic…

2. Something Nasty Happened to One Poor Specimen’s Tail

As paleontologist Dave Hone notes on his wonderful blog, a Mamenchisaurus skeleton that currently resides at China’s Chengdu University of Technology has an unnatural-looking growth above one of its tail vertebrae. This, he explains, was caused by either a broken and re-healed backbone injury or “an infection that spread inside the tail causing the build-up of ossified tissue.”

3. An Especially Huge Species Was Asia’s Largest Dinosaur

We still don’t know which dino was the world’s all-time biggest, but at an estimated 115 feet in length, Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum clearly deserves to be part of this discussion.

4. Another Species Had An Odd Spinal Column

Mamenchisaurus youngi looks like it’s in desperate need of a Jurassic chiropractor. Paleo-artist Gregory S. Paul points out that the vertebrae above this dinosaur’s hips are fused together in a strange, V-shaped orientation. [PDF] Therefore, M. youngi might have had to permanently hold its tail at an upturned, awkward-looking 20-degree angle.  

5. Mamenchisaurus Featured “Spatula-Shaped” Teeth

These broad chompers were ideal for gathering bundles of leaves in huge gulps, unlike the pencil-shaped teeth of such massive herbivores as Diplodocus, a dino which nimbly stripped them from narrow branches.

6. At Least One Variety Had a Clubbed Tail

Although Mamenchisaurus hochuanensis rocked a small, bony knob at the end of its tail, some scientists claim that this thing would’ve been practically useless as a weapon. Interestingly, M. houchanensis was far from the only Asian sauropod (“long-necked dino”) to have had one. Omeisaurus and Shunosaurus were also card-carrying members of the prestigious “Tail-Club Club”.

7. The Czech Republic Boasts an Animatronic Mamenchisaurus

Next time you’re in Prague, be sure to visit this guy at the Harfa DinoPark (and don’t forget the kids)!

Speaking of cool displays, NYC’s American Museum of Natural History temporarily housed some reconstructed Mamenchisaurus organs. Sadly, this exhibit’s no longer in town, but feel free to check out several neat photos here.

8. It Had Huge “Neck Ribs”

Take a gander at this picture. Notice those long, pointy things on the bottom of this Mamenchisaurus’ neck? They’re called “cervical ribs,” and they probably acted as a load-bearing mechanism. However, these would have also cost the dino some flexibility in that area. Alas, life frequently demands such trade-offs. 

9. According to One Study, Mamenchisaurus Preferred Low-Lying Vegetation

In 2013, an international paleontological team took a good, hard look at Mamenchisaurus youngi and its magnificent vertebrae. Their research concluded that, based on its relative stiffness, M. youngi “had a nearly straight, near horizontal neck posture and browsed at low or medium heights.”

10. Mamenchisaurus May Have Played a Part in the History of Chinese Medicine


Are mythical dragons and long-gone dinosaurs really one and the same? Written sometime during the Jin Dynasty (265-317 C.E.), an invaluable book called The Chronicles of Huayang records the discovery of “dragon bones” in what is now China’s Sichuan Province. Jurassic fossil deposits—including a few which have produced Mamenchisaurus material—are widespread throughout the area. Perhaps this period’s dinosaurs helped give rise to the legendary, fire-breathing reptiles of Chinese folklore.

Furthermore, it was once widely believed that dragons harbored some medicinal qualities. In fact, as recently as 2006, dinosaur fossils were still being sold as “dragon bones” (at around 25 cents per pound), mashed up, and “boiled with other ingredients and fed to children to treat dizziness and leg cramps.” Ask your doctor if Mamenchisaurus is right for you!

New LEGO Set Recreates Jurassic Park's Iconic Velociraptor Chase Scenes

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the fifth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, is skulking into theaters on June 22. That makes now the perfect time to revisit the original film in LEGO form.

This LEGO set, spotted by Nerdist, depicts some of the most suspenseful scenes from the 1993 movie. There's the main computer room where Ariana Richards's Lex shows off her hacker skills while Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) struggle to keep a hungry dinosaur from barging in. Just like in the film, the door features a deadbolt lock that's velociraptor-proof (though, unfortunately for the characters, the detachable window is not). Other Easter eggs hidden in this part include a map of Isla Nublar and a screener saver of LEGO Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight).

In the neighboring room, you'll find the cold storage unit where the dinosaur embryos are kept, along with the fake shaving cream can Nedry uses to steal them. The final section is the kitchen, where Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex are stalked by the velociraptor. There's less room for them to hide in the LEGO version compared to the movie set, but there is at least one functioning cabinet for Lex to tuck herself into. Closer inspection reveals even more details from the film, like the lime-green Jello Lex is eating when the raptors first arrive and the step ladder the gang uses to escape into the air ducts during the final chase.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

The Jurassic Park Velociraptor Chase set is currently available from the LEGO shop for $40.

[h/t Nerdist]

All images courtesy of LEGO.

Why Are There No More Dinosaurs?

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asks. Do you have a question? Send it to

Actually, there are still dinosaurs: Birds! But let’s talk about that a little later. Scientists have found clues in rocks and fossils that tell us that by 65 million years ago, the climate (CLY-met), or usual weather, of the Earth had changed a lot, becoming cooler and drier. That was hard on the heat-loving dinosaurs. But that’s not why almost all of the dinosaurs became extinct, or disappeared forever. Scientists think a terrible event occurred that killed them off.

In 1991, scientists discovered a huge 110-mile-long crater, or hole, in the Gulf of Mexico. They think this crater was made by a giant, fiery, 6-mile-wide asteroid (AST-er-oyd) from space that smashed into the Earth about 65 million years ago. The impact was more powerful than any bomb we have ever known. Scientists believe this event killed most plant and animal life—including the dinosaurs. The asteroid probably caused shockwaves, earthquakes, fireballs, wildfires, and tidal, or really big, waves. It also sent huge amounts of dust and gas into the atmosphere, which is like a big blanket of air that surrounds the Earth. That was really bad for the planet.

The dust blocked sunlight, making the planet very cold and dark. Then, over time, the gases trapped heat, causing the Earth to get even hotter than it was before the asteroid hit. This change was deadly for most dinosaurs, and they became extinct. But birds survived. Many millions of years earlier, they had evolved (ee-VOL-ved), or changed slowly over time, from one group of dinosaurs. And when the dinosaurs disappeared, mammals diversified (die-VERSE-uh-fide), or changed, into many different kinds of animals—including us, many millions of years later. So the next time you see a bird swoop by, wave hello to the little flying dinosaur!    


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