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Re: Ceratopian jaws (my last bow)

Stan Friesen wrote:

> The difficulty with this is that there is little evidence for abundant
> high-fiber plant material in the Late Cretaceous of North America. In
> fact the vegetation in question was dominated by varying mixtures of
> sequoias, flowering trees, gingos, ferns, and "ur-sedges".  Over much
> of the area where _Triceratops_ is found even palms are rather rare.

It seems to me that greatly elongated jaw muscles would be primarily an
adaptation to drive the jaws over a greatly extended range.  How far could
a ceratopian open its mouth?  Perhaps ceratopians adapted to eat or chew
through very large things -- tree bark perhaps, or maybe they would
actually chew down trees to get to the leaves.

On a completely different tact, is it possible that neck muscles attached
to these frill sites?  For animals with such huge heads that were so
obviously useful for combat, neck muscle attachments father out on the
frill could possibly give these muscles a distinct leverage advantage.

As far as determining if the frill is actually strong enough to withstand
any of these forces (and illustrate what advantage, if any, the animal
would have with these adaptations) I think it would not be too difficult to
create a model with a modern engineering design program.  I, myself, could
probably write a program from scratch to model a triceratops head to
evaluate the different muscle attachment scenarios, but it might take me a
year to do it accurately.  However, a model could probably be cooked up in
just a month or so with an advanced, modern engineering program, an
accurate triceratops skull model (or, better yet, a preexisting digitized
skull), a 3D laser scanner (if you can find one, otherwise you'll either
have to find an already digitized skull or create one yourself), and basic
information on bone density and bone strength of the frill.

By the way, how dense is the frill bone? 


Watch Babylon 5.