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Re: Sauropod necks
Norton, Patrick wrote:
> If it didn't knock the tree over, it would certainly have bent it.
> Actually, bending the tree and extending the neck horizontally along the
> trunk to feed on the tree top (now much closer to the ground) may make
> some sense. Biomechanical modeling of sauropods by Kent Stevens and
> Michael Parrish (discussed in the November issue of Discover
> magazine--I'm not sure if they've published) suggests that some sauropods
> (Brachiosaurs in particular) may have had a very limited range of neck
> motion. If that is true, a "bend it and eat it" feeding behavior could
> explain the advantage of having a long neck that couldn't be used to
> elevate the head much above the horizontal. Not to mention the advantage
> of saving the tree for another meal on another day.
Elephants are also notorious for this. I have seen them rear
up on their hind legs to get at palm fruit, and when all of those
fruit that are in reach have been eaten, the tree is knocked down
completely to reach the rest. I'm not sure, but I also seem to recall
them tearing the palm apart to get to the pith (humans also do this
to extract sago).
Not only does this behaviour allow the herbivore to reach
food that is otherwise unobtainable (even with the longest trunk/neck)
but it also may clear out old growth to allow for new trees to
grow beneath them. Even in modern forests saplings often don't get
a chance to grow at all unless one of the canopy trees has fallen
I'm not sure about "saving a tree for another day".
Herbivores tend to eat food while they can get it, since the world
is almost literally covered in plants. I think it's the carnivores
that tend to save food, since meat does not always just lie there
waiting to be eaten (ie. it tends to try to run away).