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Keywords:

  • Sauropoda;
  • Saurischia;
  • Dinosauria;
  • neck;
  • sexual selection

Abstract

The immensely long neck of a sauropod is one of the most familiar and striking of anatomical specializations among dinosaurs. Here, I use recently collected neontological and paleontological information to test the predictions of two competing hypotheses proposed to explain the significance of the long neck. According to the traditional hypothesis, neck elongation in sauropods increased feeding height, thereby reducing competition with contemporaries for food. According to the other hypothesis, which is advanced for the first time here, neck elongation in sauropods was driven by sexual selection. Available data match the predictions of the sexual selection hypothesis and contradict the predictions of the feeding competition hypothesis. It is therefore more plausible that increases in sauropod neck lengths were driven by sexual selection than by competition for foliage.