The Euhelopus was a genus of titanosaurs from the Berriasian and Valanginian stages of the Early Cretaceous period. It was a herbivore that lived in the lush floodplains and marshes of present-day China around 154–142 million years ago. The Euhelopus closely resembled macronarian sauropods, with longer forelimbs than rear limbs and a long neck and tail. It was also the first-ever sauropod to be discovered in China.

Key Facts

Euhelopus pronunciationYou-hel-oh-pus
What does Euhelopus mean?True Marsh Foot
Dinosaur typeSauropod
On the menuHerbivorous
Length39 feet (12 meters)
Height8.2 feet (2.5 meters)
Weight22.000 lbs (10 tons)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundQuadruped
Estimated top speedUnknown
When they livedLower Cretaceous, 154-142 million years ago
Where they have been found?China

When & Where

The first Euhelopus fossils were discovered in early 1913 in China’s Shandong Province. A Catholic priest, Father R. Mertens, accidentally found the bones and sent them to the head of the Geological Survey of China. This was the first time dinosaur remains from China were studied scientifically.

About a decade later in 1922, another Catholic priest helped paleontologists rediscover this site for further research. Around this time, an Austrian student named Otto Zdansky discovered two skeletons of the Euhelopus at the site, a few kilometers apart. This species was initially named Helopus, from the Greek words for “marsh” and “foot“, referring to its habitat and four-toed feet. Since this name was already used for a bird species, it was changed to Euhelopus in 1956, meaning “true Helopus“.

Size & Weight

Euhelopus was a giant sauropod, measuring 39 feet (12 meters) long and weighing around 10 tons (11 short tons). It was slightly smaller than the average sauropod but still one of the largest animals to walk the Earth.

Mobility & Diet

The Euhelopus was quadruped, meaning it got around on all fours. It probably moved similarly to other sauropods, using its long neck and tail for balance as it lumbered along.

It was a herbivore and only ate plants. It probably used its long neck and small head to nibble on leaves high up in trees. Its teeth were leaf-shaped and serrated, perfect for slicing through vegetation.

Interesting Points

  • These dinosaurs were relatively common in the Shandon, Liaoning, and Xinjiang provinces of China in their time.
  • Euhelopus could stand on two legs to reach taller plants with its tail as a counterbalance.
  • The first sauropod to be discovered in China, Euhelopus, was also the largest dinosaur known from the country in the early 20th century.
  • Alice Wilson, the first ever woman paleontologist, also played a part in the discovery of Euhelopus.

Featured Image Credit: DiBgd, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons