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Supersaurus facts for kids

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Temporal range: Upper Jurassic
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Sauropodomorpha
Infraorder: Sauropoda
Family: Diplodocidae
Genus: Supersaurus

Supersaurus was a sauropod dinosaur, a relative of Diplodocus. It was found in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Colorado in 1972.

In most respects, Supersaurus is similar in to Apatosaurus, but it is less robustly built. It has elongated cervical vertebrae, resulting in one of the longest known sauropod necks. It was up to 33 to 34 meters (108 to 112 ft) in length, and a weight of 35 to 40 tons.

A new and much more complete specimen of Supersaurus, nicknamed 'Jimbo', WDC DMJ-021, was found in Converse County, Wyoming in 1996. It is currently being prepared and was described in 2007. Its bones are held at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.


Longest dinosaurs2
Diagram showing the size of Supersaurus (orange) compared with selected giant sauropods
Supersaurus dinosaur
Life restoration of Supersaurus based primarily on Wyoming Dinosaur Center's more complete "Jimbo"

Supersaurus is among the largest dinosaurs known from good remains, possibly reaching 33–34 meters (108–112 ft) in length, and a weight of 31.8–36.3 metric tons (35.1–40.0 short tons).

The first described specimens of Supersaurus were individual bones that suggested a large diplodocid. A large cervical vertebra BYU 9024 from the same quarry was later assigned to Supersaurus. This vertebra measures 1,380 millimeters (54 in) and is the longest cervical known.

The assignment of the more complete specimen, WDC DMJ-021, to Supersaurus suggests that in most respects it was very similar in anatomy to Apatosaurus but less robustly built with especially elongated cervical vertebrae, resulting in one of the longest known sauropod necks.


A reconstructed skeleton, Museum of Ancient Life, Utah, USA

The original fossil remains of Supersaurus were discovered in the Dry Mesa Quarry in 1972. This find yielded only a few bones: mainly the shoulder girdle, an ischium and tail vertebrae. Paleontologist James A. Jensen described Supersaurus; he designated a scapulocoracoid BYU 9025 (originally labeled as BYU 5500) as the type specimen. This shoulder girdle stood some 2.4 meters (8 ft) tall, if placed on end. The specimen was given the name "Supersaurus" informally as early as 1973, but was not officially described and named until more than a decade later, in 1985.

Sauropod researcher Jack McIntosh at one time thought that the BYU Supersaurus material might represent a large species of Barosaurus but later felt that there was evidence for Supersaurus being a valid genus.

Jimbo Supersaurus
A reconstruction of WDC DMJ-021, nicknamed "Jimbo", Wyoming Dinosaur Center

A much more complete specimen WDC DMJ-021, was found in Converse County, Wyoming in 1986 by Brandon Flyr and Bart Lesco while out hiking and was reported to the people who owned the land at the time. The discovery was later named "Jimbo" in 1996 by the family that purchased the land, it was described and assigned to Supersaurus in 2007. The specimen represented approximately 30% of the skeleton. Its bones are being held at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. A comparison of WDC DMJ-021 and other specimens previously assigned to Supersaurus was done in order to help decide what material from the Dry Mesa Quarry belonged to the genus. It indicated that a series of tail vertebrae and an ulna may have belonged to some other diplodocid.

Supersaurus is present in stratigraphic zone 5 of the Morrison, dating from the Tithonian.

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