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RE: Bipedal apatosaurs and stegosaurs?



Betty Cunningham writes;

>     I still believe that the sauropods most effective feeding method
>would be for the larger animals to 'walk' up a tree trunk with their
>heavily clawed front feet as stabilizers for the inital placement of the
>front feet on the tree, and then to walk or lean into the tree so as to
>knock it over or at least get it to tip mightily.

Ummm....

I hate to be a wet-blanket, but I am unconvinced of the "tripod" feeding
 model for sauropods.  Granted, there are physiological/skeletal features
 that would allow such a stance, but can we really be certain that this
 stance was used most/all of the time?  To go a step further, can we be
 certain that the skeletal "rearing-features" were really used for that
 purpose (and is there different interpretation available)?

When one considers the high browsers of today (i.e. elephants and giraffes)
 one occasionally sees them rearing to reach high branches.  However, this
 is not their primary mode of feeding.  When food is scarce, and they need
 to eat more of the tree, *then* they will rear up to reach higher foliage.
 Elephants will go one step further by bringing down the whole tree for
 easier consumption (Note that the elephant *prefers* to feed on the tree
 when it has been felled).  When it comes down to it, rearing up to feed
 requires a lot more energy (and is therefore less efficient) than simply
 standing and munching on what is readily available.

As far as the skeletal features that make the tail stronger (and therefore
 useful in rearing), what if they are simply reinforcing the tail for use as
 a weapon.  The sauropods that are primarily seen as rearing-feeders are in
 the "whip tail" clade (I can't believe I just used that word).  As a
 result, I propose that the stronger tail simply makes a better
 anti-predator device.

Asbestos suit at the ready.


Rob Meyerson
Orphan Vertebrate Paleontologist

***
The pun is the lowest form of humor ... unless you thought of it first!