Mamenchisaurus (Mamenxi lizard)
C. C. Young – 1954
Estimated 22-35 meters long
M. constructus (type), M. anyuensis, M. hochuanensis, M. jingyanensis, M. sinocanadorum, M. youngi
China – Mamenxi Formation
Late Jurassic, 160-145 million years ago
Mamenchisaurus is a genus of sauropod dinosaur that lived during the Late Jurassic period, around 160 to 145 million years ago, in what is now China. Its name means “Mamenxi lizard”, in reference to the Mamenxi Formation where its fossils were first discovered in Sichuan Province.
Mamenchisaurus is known for its long neck, which measured up to 11 meters (36 feet) in length in some species. Despite its long neck, Mamenchisaurus had relatively few neck vertebrae compared to other long-necked sauropods, such as Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus. Instead, its neck was made up of elongated vertebrae, which were filled with air sacs to make them lightweight and easier to support.
In addition to its long neck, Mamenchisaurus had a relatively small head, with teeth that were shaped like pegs and were well-suited for stripping leaves from branches. Its body was massive, with a broad ribcage, thick legs, and a long tail that it likely used to counterbalance its neck and head.
Several species of Mamenchisaurus have been identified based on differences in their vertebrae and other skeletal features. The largest known species, Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum, is estimated to have measured up to 35 meters (115 feet) in length, making it one of the largest known sauropods.
Mamenchisaurus is one of the best-known sauropods from China and has played an important role in our understanding of dinosaur evolution and biogeography in Asia. The discovery of this dinosaur and other long-necked sauropods in China has helped to reveal the diversity of these animals during the Late Jurassic period and has shed light on the evolution of long necks in sauropods.