Its name literally means Double Beam, this because of the predominant shape of its bones, it was a diplodoxed auropod dinosaur, this family is composed of dinosaurs with long necks that walked on all four legs. The Diplodocus lived approximately 150 million years ago in the Kemridgian and Titonian period, mainly in North America. Although not one of the best known dinosaurs, it was one of the most common dinosaurs found in what is called the Morrison Formation, an area that was found with many remains due to the sediments that were deposited there and preserved.
They are very easy to recognize, and because of the large amount of remains that have been found, it is one of the most studied dinosaurs, and for a long time was one of the largest dinosaurs we knew of. He walked on four very long legs, had a very long neck and an equally long whip-shaped tail. It is known that its front legs were a little shorter than the rear legs, so we are sure that its position was completely horizontal, in fact its structure has been compared to a suspension bridge.
From what we know of them it is believed that they could not lift their necks more than 30 degrees and it is believed that they could weigh up to 16 tons. Another crucial part of its anatomy was the tail that had more than 80 vertebrae, which are the bones that form the spine, these are twice as many as some of the other dinosaurs described.
It is the longest dinosaur of which you have a complete skeleton, so we can know a lot about them. The first bones discovered were in 1877 by S.W. Williston. Between 1878 and 1924, different species of Diplodocus found in Wyoming were described. Othniel Charles Marsh, who gave him his name. Many of his remains have been found in Utah, Montana and Wyoming at the Morrison Formation. The only part that hasn’t been that easy to find is the skull, even though it is one of the most common dinosaurs we can find in exhibitions and museums. The best known bones are those of D carnegie, who has travelled all over the world, although it should be mentioned that he is not the typical Diplodocus.
The sauropods, the family to which the Diplodocus belongs, were usually herbivores, which means that they ate plants. The peculiar thing about these dinosaurs is that their teeth were very different from the others in their family, their teeth were rather long and thin and at the tip they had a kind of triangle, which was the most used because in many specimens this part was very worn. The shape and position of his teeth suggest that he was removing branches, probably using a snout side with which he plucked leaves from trees, hence also the position of his eyes.
His neck was very flexible, we know this by the shape of his vertebrae, because of this it is thought that he could also eat upright, ie rising on two legs and stabilizing with his large tail, even feeding on very tall trees, up to 10 meters high. In the same way and due to characteristics found in his head it is believed that he may even have had the ability to eat aquatic plants submerged a few meters below the water.
One thing to take into account is that their digestion was helped by gastrophy, that is to say, they ate stones that remained in their digestive tract and literally helped to crush the food. Nowadays some birds do the same thing in order to have a better digestion.
Its main virtue was its large size, this was surely its best defense against its biggest predators, the Allosaurus. In 1991, after much debate, it was concluded that it could have reached 54 meters in length, making it undoubtedly the longest dinosaur we know of. One of the parts that greatly adds meters to its length was its tail, which is thought to be used as a whip as a defense or simply to make noise and frighten its predators. As a curious fact and to add a little more to its length, there are theories that it may have had a trunk, not as long as that of the elephants but long enough to make it even longer, this theory is based on the position of its nostrils, however there is not much evidence to support this theory.
Where else can you find him?
The Diplodocus is relatively common in popular culture, although it does not have a name as catchy as other dinosaurs. You can see it in the very famous Walking with Dinosaurs, also in the film Fantasy, you have to look for them, but they are definitely there. James A. Michener has a chapter in one of his books dedicated to this dinosaur. It is also very common to find it as a dinosaur toy as it is one of the best-selling dinosaurs. You can also see it at the Jurassic Park amusement park.