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Re: Yo! Brachiodudes!



>In a fairly recent kids' dino book my son got from the library there was
>plausible hypothesis, complete with astounding illustration, that high-
>nostril sauropods could have had a tapir-like or elephant-like trunk, which
>understandably wouldn't have fossilized.  Modern mammals with extended
>snouts, like elephants, tapirs, elephant seals, have high nasal openings
>in the skull, just as Brachiosaurus has.  By convergent evolution (especially
>since brachiosaurids and elephants are thought to have had somewhat similar
>high-browsing lifestyles), perhaps a trunk would allow just a little longer
>reach to animals already reaching pretty high.  Isn't one of the extinct
>camels also typically reconstructed with an extended snout?
>
>Is the idea of a sauropod trunk worth consideration?

It was considered (in the '70s and early '80s), but it may not work that
well.  Sauropsids (aka reptiles) in general are not characterized by
well-developed and mobile face muscles - the structures which mammals have
aplenty, and which form the trunks of tapirs, elephants, and some extinct
forms.  Furthermore, there doesn't seem to be that much in the way of
attachment sites for these.

Not to say that there definitely were no trunks - dinosaurs did many things
which modern reptiles do not.
There was an illustration from some-years back of Dicraeosaurus with a
trunk (in a coloring book, of all places!) - it did nothing for its
appearence... ;-)

>Is it possible that the head crest containing the nostril is a resonating
>chamber for "honking", as postulated for hadrosaurs? Or can the long neck be
>used as a resonating tube for making sound?

I think an inflatible sound-generator may be a good idea, especially for
Brachiosaurus (among other things, the protrusion of the nasal area forms a
nice surface for a honker that isn't found in Diplodocus, Camarasaurus,
etc.).

                                
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.                                   
tholtz@geochange.er.usgs.gov
Vertebrate Paleontologist in Exile                  Phone:      703-648-5280
U.S. Geological Survey                                FAX:      703-648-5420
Branch of Paleontology & Stratigraphy
MS 970 National Center
Reston, VA  22092
U.S.A.