Reconstructing how the largest land vertebrates looked and lived is a fascinating challenge requiring integrating knowledge and skill
from multiple scientific disciplines. All too often, modern animals are used as superficial analogs or models for their form and behavior.
The work described on these pages primarily address the osteological structure of their necks, but also discuss characteristic poses of modern vertebrates, and beliefs held about sauropod neck posture.
The sauropod neck is the most curious feature of these unique creatures. When their individual vertebrae are fitted together they form an improbably straight extension of the back. Consequently:
Those sauropods with those with shorter
forelimbs than hind limbs hence roughly horizontal backs had necks that emerged as horizontal extensions of the back.
Those sauropods with roughly equal-length limbs had slightly upward sloping backs backs, and the neck also sloped upward as it emerged from the back
At the head end of the neck, virtually all sauropod specimens exhibit a slight downturn to the neck, resulting in a slight droop which positioned the head well for feeding downward, either for low browsing, medium, or high browsing (depending on the bauplan). Contrary to popular belief, the vertebral column does not bend upward at the base of the sauropod neck as it does most famously in the giraffe.
Most modern bird and mammal necks are more-or-less sigmoid curved. The vertebrae are keystone-shaped and fit together to make a reflex curve that intrinsically raises the head above the shoulders in the undeflected state. To be sure, such animals frequently lift the head even higher by bending the neck up at the base, and some nervous creatures habitually add this additional elevation when they are not busy eating (especially grazers such as bunnies and ostriches, given the nature of foxes and lions).
Now, regarding sauropods, their necks are osteologically very straight, and perhaps unaesthetic to some, and contrary to their childhood images and rubber dinosaur collection. But sauropods were what they were, and there is no close modern analog for these great creatures. But to ascribe living behavior to these extinct creatures based on extant analogues, it is important to choose the modern models with care. There are vertebrates today that are very large herbivores. Good. Very few mammals, even fewer birds, but many reptiles have straight cervical vertebral columns. It is important to study animals whose necks are not sigmoid curved and instead stick straight out from the shoulders. (Basically, if they wanted to raise their necks a lot, they'd have the necessary bends built in.
Those that don't, well, don't.) So it's not easy to find a modern model. A bunny, for instance, would not be the very model of a modern major sauropod.