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PROSAUROPOD

If there's one rule of evolution, it's that all mighty creatures have smaller, less overwhelming ancestors lurking somewhere back in their family trees--and nowhere is this rule more evident than in the relationship between the giant sauropods of the late Jurassic period and the smaller prosauropods that preceded them by tens of millions of years. Prosauropods (Greek for "before the sauropods") weren't simply scaled-down versions of Brachiosaurus or Apatosaurus; many of them walked on two legs, and there's some evidence that they may have pursued an omnivorous, rather than strictly herbivorous, diet.

You might assume from their name that prosauropods eventually evolved into sauropods; this was once thought to be the case, but paleontologists now believe that most prosauropods were actually second cousins, once removed, of the sauropods (not a technical description, but you get the idea!) Rather, it appears that prosauropods evolved in parallel with the true ancestors of sauropods, which have yet to be definitively identified (though there are a number of likely candidates).


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