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Re: Sauropod diets and habitats

On Sun, 12 Jan 1997 Jabkar@aol.com wrote:

> I am curious to know the current state of "knowledge" regarding the diets
> and habitats of sauropods such as Brachiosaurus:
        Jorge Calvo, Paul Barrett and Paul Upchurch have delved into this 
area at one time or another (check out the GAIA sauropod volume for 
examples).  They recognize a number of tooth morphologies that suggest 
the picture is more complex than "peg" (ie diplo) and "spatulate" (ie 
brach, cam).  Not being a mastication expert I really don't have any 
passionate opinions regarding this subject accept to state that they all 
raise very interesting questions.

> Was the vegetation available at Brachiosaurian ideal heights all conifer?  

        Make me break out my Common Fossil Plants of Western North 
America why don't you...But before I go that far, no one knows what is 
the "ideal" brachiosaurid feeding height, as the long believed "erect neck" 
perpetuated by artists may not actually be shown to be true.  I have   
never seen the "flexed centrum" that is so critical to the "giraffe 
neck" argument (but I would be remiss if I did not hastily admit I have 
not yet seen the Tendaguru material in person).  I have seen 
cranial dorsals of Brachiosaurus (#s 2 and 3) (to be published sometime in 
the next year hopefully) and they don't have the kink, nor do the caudal 
cervicals I have seen (#s 11-13?).  Stevens and Parrish modeled the 
cervicals and can't get the neck to articulate like it has been 
traditionally drawn, as the zygapophyses 
prevent it from doing so.  I eagerly anticipate there manuscript on
cervical modeling (as well as ***hopefully*** examining the Tendaguru 
material first hand).  There manuscript should be, if nothing else, very 
thought provoking, and will be armed with much wonderful new 
zygapophysial information (the zygs, those oft overlooked elements, heh 
heh heh, vertebrae may yet have the last laugh).  
I just noticed I completely avoided opening up my paleobotany book, whew!
> Also, what would happen to a fully grown Brachiosaurus if it were forced to
> live in a region that contained no trees, only short shrubbery?
        What would force a fully grown Brachiosaurus to live where it did 
not want to?  :)  Actually, in times of drought, fire, flood, etc., if it 
had to eat shrubs I suppose it probably could (it had to get low 
enough to drink water at some point, and the thing is so big and 
potentially hostile that there is never a really good time to pick on our  
fully grown model), though I am not sure what the tooth folks mentioned 
above would have to say about this.