Where Did Long Neck Dinosaurs Live? A Global Snapshot


Long neck dinosaurs lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Over the earth’s natural history, they existed millions of years ago during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The sauropods, a sub-group or Clade of saurischian dinosaurs, were the biggest and longest dinosaurs that have existed on the planet. They were also the tallest. Scientists have been finding their fossilized bones, skeletons, and trackways in many different countries around the world. As we add to the collection of new dinosaur fossils every year, including long neck sauropods, it makes me wonder – where did these dinosaurs live, and what kind of coverage they have across the continents?

So, where did long neck dinosaurs live? Long neck dinosaurs, the sauropods, lived on all continents except Antarctica.

An abundance of fossils have been found in North America in multiple Western states and, in particular, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah.

In South America, many fossils have been found in Argentina, Chile, and Uraguay.

In Asia, they have found their fossils in China, Mongolia, India, and Thailand. Multiple skeletons have been found in Australia.

In Europe, fossils have been found in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Portugal.

In Africa, fossils of primitive long-neck dinosaurs (early Jurassic period) have been found in Niger and Madagascar. The long neck sauropod dinosaurs lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, spanning some 165 million years.

It’s interesting to note that paleontologists recognize that sauropods, the largest land animals, as one of the most successful dinosaurs groups. The term sauropod comes from Greek, which means “lizard foot”. Some could stand on their hind legs to reach treetops.

Where-did-long-neck-dinosaurs-live-AdventureDinosaurs

Although known for their long necks, some species had equally long tails, such as the Diplodocus found in Colorado, USA. They had characteristically small heads compared to their body size. Sauropods were herbivores, eating only plant vegetation such as trees and those that grew in swamps and marshes. Initially, paleontologists believe that sauropod spends most of their time in the water; however, there is ample evidence that they spent much time on land. Because they were herbivores, they had flat-shaped teeth that were designed for grinding vegetation.

Paleontologists believe that they were hunted by apex predators such as Allosaurus in the Jurassic period and T. Rex and Giganotosaurus in the Cretaceous.

Let’s take a deep dive now to give a “snapshot” on where exactly long neck dinosaurs lived, describing some of the amazing fossils finds worldwide during the earth’s natural history.

I’ve researched information to write this article from many sources – multiple internet sites and magazines. However, some of the best reference knowledge is from books. If you are interested in checking out the best dinosaur books for adults on Amazon, you can find them by clicking here: Best Dinosaur Books for Adults

Long Neck Dinosaurs of North America and South America – Where Did Diplodocus Live? 

North and South America was a great stomping ground for long neck dinosaurs. So the earliest longnecked dinosaur fossils have been found and exhibited from North American fossils. South American sauropods hold the record for some of the largest sauropods, and excavations are finding more fossils and more information about the habitat of these long neck dinosaurs from the Patagonia region in Argentina. Interestingly, many skeletons are near-complete fossils, which is exciting because it gives detailed information about the dinosaur.

North American Sauropods- What Part of the World Did Brachiosaurus Live?

Long neck dinosaur fossils have been found in North America in the states of Colorado, the Dakotas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Other Western states have also found sauropod fossils, but not complete skeletons. Colorado is perhaps the most famous for some of the sauropod dinosaur fossils as they have been nearly complete skeletons and, furthermore, have been significant in some of the first discoveries such as the Diplodocus and Apatosaurus (or Brontosaurus), so there is a long history with sauropods.

During the Jurassic, the habitat of North America’s Western states looked and felt different from what it is today. The earth was much hotter. There was likely conifer forest and lakes and rivers, river deltas, but also desert plains.

In the Cretaceous, North America’s Western states changed to a more subtropical habitat, and there were grasslands, an increased amount of lakes and swamps, rivers, and river deltas. The vegetation included flowering plants and deciduous trees.

The most common sauropod found in the Western states of North America was the Camarasaurus. Other significant sauropods fossil discoveries were Diplodocus, Brachiosaurus, Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus), and arguably the tallest dinosaur, Sauroposeidon proteles. 

Camarasaurus – fossils of this dinosaur have been found in Colorado and Utah. It is one of the most well-known dinosaurs to scientists as its fossils have been found nearly complete and fairly often in these two states. Camarasaurus lived in the Jurassic period, and paleontologists have evidence pointing to this dinosaur living in herds. Its fossil skull shows that its snout was much blunter than other sauropods compared with other sauropods. Additionally, the teeth and suspected habitat confirm that the sauropod was a herbivore.

Diplodocus – Considered to be the longest sauropod found, a large part due to its near-complete skeleton. Found in Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. First fossils were found in 1877. The length of the Diplodocus carneigii was about 90 feet (27.4 meters) long, and the largest of the longest one, Diplodocus hallorum was estimated to be 108 feet (33 m) long. (Source)

YouTube Video About Sauropods and Their Sizes

YouTube Video by ” PBS Eons” which discusses sauropods. Excellent information about the different sizes and also where these giant long neck dinosaurs lived

Brachiosaurus – the Brachiosaurus fossils have been found in Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. However, only the fossils from Colorado are near-complete skeletons, and in the other states, the fossils have been partial. The sauropod was unique because its skull had a pronounced bump on the top of its head, compared with other sauropods found in the area. It had 14 to 15 teeth (9-11 in Camarasaurus or Diplodocus). The front legs were also longer than the hind legs, giving this dinosaur a unique shape and walking posture. Brachiosaurus is estimated to 60-70 feet long (18-20 meters) and was typically larger than other North American sauropods. It was considered to have been able to stand on its hind legs due to its tail and hind legs anatomy. (Source)

Apatosaurus & Brontosaurus – Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus, whose fossils were discovered in Colorado (Apatosaurus) in 1877 and Wyoming (Brontosaurus), have a mixed history together because early fossils were mixed and even the skull of the Apatosaurus was missing from the skeleton, and the Brontosaurus skull was used. Up until the 1970s, Brontosaurus was considered the main species claiming title to both dinosaurs. Later in the 1980s, some scientists claimed that Brontosaurus did not exist, and all were placed under Apatosaurus. In 2015, paleontologists reconsidered this and resurrected the Brontosaurus species, of which Brontosaurus excelsus is the most well known. 

Sauroposeidon – this dinosaur was the largest sauropod (weight and length) in North America, but it holds the most recognition for being the tallest dinosaur. Based on fossil analysis is considered to be the tallest sauropod dinosaur. It is estimated that the dinosaur’s height, if it extended its head and neck, to be 56-59 feet (17-18 meters). Its fossils and trackways were found in Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.

Long Neck Dinosaurs of South America

South America during the Jurassic period created a habitat similar to that of North America. It was warm and subtropical, humid with tropical breezes. The landscape had shallow seas, river deltas, conifer forests with ferns and cycad, and palms. 

During the Cretaceous, it became much greener with more lakes and rivers. Like in North America, deciduous forests and flowering bushes started to become dominant. Grasses began to grow. (Source)

Argentinosaurus – A farmer discovered the first Argentinosaurus fossils in 1987. The size of the vertebrae was enormous. However, most of the fossils of the Argentinosaurus are incomplete, and the exact size of the dinosaur is unknown. Still, indeed it was large, one of the largest sauropods and the largest in South America. This dinosaur lived in the late Cretaceous period, and fossils have been found in Argentina. 

Patagotitan – This was another dinosaur that was found in Argentina in 2008. It represents one of the most complete sauropod titanosaurs and tosses its hat in the ring to be considered one of the largest dinosaurs ever. The good thing it has going for is that the skeleton is nearly complete, with all its neck, back, and tail vertebrae. Interestingly, six fossils were found fairly close together and totaled 130 fossilized bones altogether. What makes it more interesting is that they did not all die simultaneously. Instead, there were layers of minerals separating the different skeletons and indicating different periods between the fossils. (Source)

Amargasaurus – What makes this South American dinosaur unique, in addition to its virtually complete fossil skeleton, is that this dinosaur had spikes sticking out of its neck from the head to the torso and even along part of its back, two rows of them! This dinosaur was found in Argentina and lived during the Early Cretaceous. It was a smaller sauropod in comparison to Argentinosaurus and Patagotitan and had a shorter neck and tail. Unfortunately, this sauropod has only one fossil skeleton, but we are lucky it was so complete. 

Table of North American & South American Long Neck Sauropods

In the table below, I list the name of the dinosaur in the first column, a short description in the second column, list where the fossil was found in the third column, and in the fourth, how big the dinosaur was

Long Neck Dinosaurs of Asia and Australia

Sauropods lived in parts of Asia that are now present-day China, Mongolia, India, and Thailand. They also have found numerous fossils in Australia. In addition to fossils, their trackway footprints have been found in all the countries listed. Let’s take a closer look at what habitats and conditions existed for these sauropod dinosaurs and some unique sauropods fossils found from these countries.

Asian Sauropods – Long Neck Dinosaurs That Lived in China and Mongolia

During the Jurassic period, the habitat in China and Mongolia was different. What was strikingly different was especially the habitat in Mongolia. Today much of Mongolia is a desert habitat, including the Gobi desert, which is the largest desert in Asia and the sixth-largest in the world. The Gobi desert also covers part of northern China. In the Jurassic, the Gobi desert was full of vegetation, subtropical with Pine conifer forest and many waterways leading to rivers, swamps, river deltas, and lakes. China was even more subtropical in southern areas. It was the same in India and Thailand.

During the Cretaceous, it’s interesting that unlike other areas of the world, it started on its desert path, i.e., desertification, and much of the geography was dry and arid. However, even in these areas, there were waterways, rivers, and swamps where sauropods lived, just not as many as in the Jurassic. South from Mongolia in China, India, and Thailand, the habitat continued to be subtropical and added deciduous trees, flowering plants, and bushes.

Here are a few of the famous long neck dinosaurs from the Asian region:

Mamenchisaurus – The Mamenchisaurus was found in Sichuan China in the 1950s and is considered the dinosaur with the longest necks. Discovered initially by construction workers, paleontologists have further found fossils of this dinosaur, one of which had 19 vertebrae. It’s now considered that other North American sauropods had longer necks (although the calculation has been based on 1 – 4 vertebrae and not a complete neck fossil). However, the Mamenchisaurus had the longest sauropod necks in Asia.

Opisthocoelicaudia – the sauropod was found in what is now the Gobi Desert in Mongolia by a Polish expedition in 1965. Unfortunately, there is no complete skeleton of this dinosaur genus. In one fossilized skeleton which was missing the skull, it is notably famous because it clearly has tooth markings from a carnivore dinosaur on its bones (most likely the Tarbosaurus, the apex carnivore similar to T. Rex in this geography). Like the Brachiosaurus in North America, this dinosaur was considered to have been able to stand on its hind legs due to its tail and hind legs’ anatomy.

Australian Sauropods

It is interesting to note that the habitat in what is now present-day Australia was more closely linked to South America during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Paleogeologists have put forth suggestions that Australia was part of a large supercontinent called Gondwana in which Australia was part of this continent 200 million years ago. Following this thinking, Australia was warm and subtropical and humid during the Jurassic, and the landscape had shallow seas, river deltas, conifer forests with ferns and cycad and palms. During the Cretaceous, it added more vegetation such as deciduous trees and flowering trees and bushes and more river deltas, lakes, and swamps.

Significant fossil finds of long neck dinosaurs in Australia are:

Savannasaurus – This dinosaur was found in Australia in 2005 and later named in 2016 as Savannasaurus elliottorum. It was not a complete fossil. However, from the fossils examined, they were able to identify it as a titanosaur, and it was a medium-sized sauropod. The dinosaur fossils were found in Queensland. (Source)

Largest Australian Footprint – Created by a sauropod, this fossil footprint was found in Queensland and measured more than 5 feet (1.7 meters). They estimate that this dinosaur made the tracks approximately 130 million years ago, placing it in the mid-Cretaceous. By size, they are the largest sauropod fossil footprints in the world. Find out where to see real dinosaur tracks in my article: Real Dinosaur Tracks- 15 Places in the World to See Them

Table of Asian and Australian Long Neck Sauropods

In the table below, I list the name of the dinosaur in the first column, a short description in the second column, list where the fossil was found in the third column, and in the fourth, how big the dinosaur was

What Sauropods Lived in Europe and Middle-East & Africa?

Long neck dinosaur fossils and trackways found in Europe and Middle-East and Africa are interestingly from an earlier period, many of the mid-Jurassic period instead of the Cretaceous. Specifically, the African sauropod fossils are considered basal (early or primitive species), and the fossil skeletons indicate they had shorter necks and tails. However, these European and Middle-East, and Africa sauropods were still large compared to other dinosaurs in the same geographical area. 

European Long Neck Dinosaurs

Europe during the Jurassic area was an island and coastal geography. Paleogeologists suggest that much of what is now present-day Europe was either underwater or beginning the islands’ formations. It means that the habitat and vegetation were subtropical and coastal, with cycads and palms, with coastal forests consisting of conifers. 

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Later in the Cretaceous period, the larger landmass forming the continent began to exist. There were still many islands and shallow seas. The coastal areas, landmass, and island habitats began to see wooded forests of deciduous trees, flowering plants, and grasses. Vegetation that was common to sub-tropical islands also continued to thrive.

Notable sauropod dinosaur fossils and trackways that were found in Europe were:

Hypselosaurus priscus – What makes Hyselosaurus notable is not its fossil skeleton, although it is the most complete sauropod fossil in France. It’s unique in that its eggs were found close by, and these round spherical eggs are 1 foot (0.3m) in length and are recognized as the first dinosaurs eggs (eggs which were contributed to dinosaurs). The fossil skeleton and eggs were found in 1846. (Source)

Celtiosaurus oxoniensis – The Celtiosaurus is perhaps the most well-known sauropod in the UK; however, there is only one confirmed species of this dinosaur, the C. oxoniensis. Many other sauropod fossils have been attributed to this dinosaur but have been classified later by paleontologists as different species. This dinosaur’s fossils were found in England and existed during the mid-Jurassic period. It is one of the most complete fossils skeletons of sauropod found in England, UK.

Ohmdenosaurus – Found in Germany, this long neck dinosaur is considered a basal (early primitive) sauropod that lived in the early-Jurassic period. Scientists believe that this sauropod lived on an island habitat in what is now Bavaria. The Ohmdenosaurus is considerably smaller than other sauropods, and paleontologists believe it might have been because of its island habitat (a concept known as insular dwarfism). 

Lusotitan – The Lusotitan fossils were found in Portugal and lived during the late-Jurassic. This long neck dinosaur was discovered in 1947 and, unfortunately, is not a complete skeleton. It is missing its skull. However, what makes this dinosaur unique is that the forelimbs were longer than the hind legs, similar to the North American Brachiosaurus. Paleontologists believe it lived in a coastal plains habitat, consistent with paleogeological suggestions during the Jurassic period.

Longest Sauropod Trackway in Europe– The longest sauropod trackways in France were found in the Jura mountains in a French village named Plagne. Initially, sauropod footprints were found in 2009, and then later in 2017, the long trackways were found. The tracks are estimated to be from the early Cretaceous period, 150 million years ago. If you are interested to learn more about where to see dinosaur tracks check out my article: Real Dinosaur Tracks- 15 Places in the World to See Them.

Middle-East and African Sauropod Dinosaurs

When I think of dinosaurs, I don’t often think of the Middle-East and Africa as being one of the places where long neck dinosaurs roamed. However, many fossils are found in the Middle-East and Africa and will complete the snapshot of sauropod distribution across the world. The African sauropods fossils were more primitive sauropods, living in the mid-Jurassic. Although there are some fossils found from the Cretaceous, interestingly, the majority are from the Jurassic.

The Middle-East and Africa during the Jurassic period were far from its desert-like habitats of today. Although some parts were arid and dry, it was mostly full of vegetation and coastlines, lakes, river inlets, and river deltas. Later in the Cretaceous period, it became more sub-tropical, and the vegetation was similar to other continents where deciduous trees and flowering plants became dominant. Paleogeologists suggest Europe and Middle-East, and Africa were joined together by the supercontinent Pangea landmass, and dinosaurs existed across this continent. 

Notable long neck dinosaurs that were found in the Middle East and Africa are: 

Malawisaurus – This dinosaur that lived in what is now present-day Malawi is unique in that the fossil has been found with a skull, which is rather rare in sauropod fossils in the Middle-East and Africa, and also that it has evidence of bony plates on its skin. These bony plates are similar to plates that modern reptiles have and also to dinosaurs like a stegosaurus. The Malawisaurus lived during the early Cretaceous period.

Rapetosaurus krausei – The Rapetosaurus whose fossils have been found on present-day Madagascar’s African island was found with both a full skeleton body and skull. Paleontologists believe that the specimen is a juvenile dinosaur, and even if it were full-grown still is only a medium-sized dinosaur. It lived during the Late Cretaceous.

Giraffatitan – Found in 1906 in Tanzania, it initially was classified as an African Brachiosaurus because it was similar to other Brachiosaurs from North America. The name was later changed to Giraffatitan. Before the 1990s, it was considered to be one of the largest sauropods to have existed. This dinosaur lived during the Late Jurassic. The habitat of Tanzania during the late Jurassic was coastal with shallow lagoons and vegetation such as conifers. It had lakes and ponds and inland river deltas in addition to lagoons.

Table of European and Middle-Eastern & African Long Neck Sauropods

In the table below, I list the name of the dinosaur in the first column, a short description in the second column, list where the fossil was found in the third column, and in the fourth, how big the dinosaur was

Final Thoughts

As we have seen, long neck dinosaurs have lived all over the world for some 165 million years (Jurassic and Cretaceous periods). That in itself is amazing. Thinking back to the first time I saw a sauropod skeleton at an exhibition in Scotland, what immediately strikes you is its size. It was so tall and long with so many vertebrae it’s just unbelievable. It’s interesting to think that these dinosaurs lived in so many different countries around the world.

Paleontologists are learning more every year about these giants, their habitat, how they protected themselves against predators, and every year discovering more of their fossils, footprints, and trackways. It adds to the natural history record of the earth and gives a better glimpse of how well long neck dinosaur sauropods were dispersed and distributed across the globe.

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Michael Haralson

I'm the owner of Adventure Dinosaurs website. Although I have an extensive business background, I am fascinated with dinosaurs and have been since childhood. I'm fortunate enough to have visited fossil museums in Europe (UK, Germany, and Spain), the US (California, Texas) and in Asia (China). Currently, I'm location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.

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