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Shunosaurus (Australian Museum)


Shunosaurus (Greek for "Shu lizard"); pronounced SHOE-no-SORE-us


Plains of Asia

Historical Period:

Middle Jurassic (170 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 33 feet long and 10 tons



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Long neck; low-slung heads; forelimbs shorter than hind limbs; bony club on end of tail


About Shunosaurus:

As sauropods go, Shunosaurus wasn't even close to being the biggest--that honor belongs to giants like Argentinosaurus and Diplodocus, which weighed four or five times as much. What makes the 10-ton Shunosaurus truly special is that paleontologists have unearthed not one, but several, complete skeletons of this dinosaur, making it the best-understood of all the sauropods, anatomically speaking.

Otherwise similar to its fellow sauropods (especially Cetiosaurus, to which it was most closely related), Shunosaurus distinguished itself with the small club on the end of its tail, which it likely used to swat away approaching predators. There's no way to know for sure, but the reason bigger sauropods didn't have this feature is probably that the tyrannosaurs and raptors of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods were smart enough to leave the plus-sized adults in peace.


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