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Re: Blood flow in Sauropods



>From: ornstn@inforamp.net (Ronald Orenstein)
 > Elephants regularly dig up and eat mineral-rich earth.

Hmm, interesting

 >  Also, some food
 > items (eg fallen fruits) may be on the ground.  (Of course there was no such
 > thing as fruit during most of the sauropod era).

Even if there were, it is highly unlikely that the sauropods would
put much effort into eating it.  Their broad mouths indicate bulk
non-selective feeding on  mostly low quality browse.  Fruit is
high quality food, and is mostly eaten by *selective* feeders.
The overall structure of an elephant looks much more selective to
me - both the pointed mouth and the prehensile trunk are adaptations
to selective feeding, not bulk browsing.

You have to *start* with the basics, like the mouth shape, and go
from there.  Sauropods have cow-like mouths, not elephant-like ones.

*However* they fed, and *wherever* they fed, sauropods did so by
gulping down great quantities of green stuff without much selection.
[So did Anatotitan, while Stegosaurus apparently picked the very best,
highest energy stuff it could find - just *look* at that narrow schnozz].

Now that we have established that sauropods were giant leaf-sucking
vacuum cleaners, we can look at the rest of the anatomy to fogure
out *how* they accessed the required quantity of leaf.  Given the
known fossil record of the Morrison times, the choices are herbaceous
ferns or tall conifers - the bushy cycads were not suitable for bulk
browsing, and were probably not common enough anyhow (understory
shrubs are usually widely scattered, and shrubs in arid svannas are
also usually widely scattered).

Ferns would be in the 0.5 to 1.5 meter height range.  The conifers
would be in the 20 meter or higher size range. A 3 meter at the
shoulders sauropod would need at most a 2 meter neck to reach ferns.
About the only Morrison sauropod that meets that criterion is
Camarasaurus - and *it* had the derived brachiosauroid style neck.

swf@elsegundoca.attgis.com              sarima@netcom.com

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