A simulation of the skeleton of the dinosaur Apatosaurus (c) Kent Stevens/ University of Oregon
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How sauropods swept with their necks

Digital simulations reveal that sauropod, the biggest of the dinosaurs, used their long necks to sweep across an enormous feeding surface.

A collection of newly published research has revealed how the sauropods - the biggest dinosaurs ever to have roamed the Earth - moved, fed and functioned.

The biggest of the sauropods, including the famous diplodocus, weighed up to 80 tonnes.

Professor Kent Stevens from the University of Oregon has used digital skeleton simulations to resolve the question of whether sauropods held their heads high or out to the front with their incredibly long necks.

He told BBC News that if you "let the bones tell the story," it is clear that these giants would not have the flexibility in their necks to pull them high above their heads.

Instead, as this simulation reveals, the sauropod Apatosaurus (formerly and perhaps more famously known as Brontosaurus) could place its head at any point across an "enormous feeding surface".

The collection of papers on "Sauropod gigantism" is published in the journal PLoS One.

Simulation courtesy of Kent A Stevens, University of Oregon