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Re: Sauropod head-neck complexes

Greg Paul said:

>In 1980 Russell et al suggested that the sauropod head-neck complex was
>comparable in function to the fingers-trunk complex of elephants. This
>comparison seems valid. Russell concluded that the feeding power of sauropods
>was comparable to that of much smaller elephants. This does not make sense,
>because the head-necks of all but the smallest sauropods were obviously many
>times larger and more powerful than the trunks of elephants. If anything, in
>this view the feeding power of sauropods was greater than that of elephants. 

Whoa, hold on there, pardner!  This comparison would only be valid if the
head-neck complex of sauropods was used for feeding in the same way
elephants do.  The use is totally different.  For one thing, the size of
food items taken in by elephants is not limited by the diameter of the trunk
in any way, because food items are not passed down the trunk.  The trunk is,
of course, wrapped around food items (some food items, because the trunk is
not used for feeding on such items as tree pith, but is held out of the way
while the animal excavates with its tusks) which are passed to the mouth.
The "fingers" are only used to manipulate small items.  Thus the
relationship between the size of the trunk and the size of food items that
elephants can take in is based on totally different parameters from the
relationship between head/neck size or strength in sauropods and the same.
Further, the trunk and tusks of elephants give them access to a wide range
of items (they can even excavate and eat large clumps of earth) in a way
that I cannot imagine sauropods doing (though no doubt they had their own
tricks - I would be astonished if dino behaviour was limited to the suites
of behaviour we see in extant animals).
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886 (home)
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