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Trees (was Re: To climb or not to climb)

(Note: I've been staying out of the climbing debate for some time, since I
do not think we have that good an idea of the morphological correlates with
scansoriality.  Plenty of things can climb well without any significant
morphological differences from their ground-dwelling relatives.  There ARE
some interesting new lines of evidence on this subject, though, which I am
looking forward to seeing at the Ostrom conference).

At 09:08 AM 12/17/98 -0500, Larry Febo wrote:
>I`ve always assumed that the evolution of flight in birds went hand in hand
>with the evolution of gymnosperm and later angiosperm trees.

Note: gymnosperm trees were already around for a LONG time before birds, or
any dinosaur for that matter.  Angiosperms during the Cretaceous, however,
were primarily herbaceous, even into the latest Cretaceous: long after the
appearance of the perching foot.

>This may also have been a reason for the apparent decline of
>smaller pterosaur species in the Cretaceous, a loss of habitat. I can see
>pterosaurs landing on long springy Cycad type leaves, but not upon
>angiosperm branches (I think they lacked that precise maneuverability). They
>may have been confined to relatively tropical areas that sported cycads,
>until outcompeted even on their own turf by the evolving avian form.

But what about the conifers (pine trees, cypress & bald cypress, podocarps,
and their relatives)?  These were the MAJOR tree formers for most of the

And note: I don't get any royalties from The Complete Dinosaur, so the
following recommendation doesn't have any ulterior financial motive:
For more information on plants during the Age of Dinosaurs, check out:
Tiffney, B.H.  1997. Land plants as food and habitat in the age of
dinosaurs.  pp. 352-370.  IN Farlow, J.H. and M.K. Brett-Surman (eds.), The
Complete Dinosaur.  Indiana University Press.

If you don't have this book yet, ask for it for Xmas... :-)

>Just me going out on a limb with more of my "speculation".

Keep on speculatin'. 

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:tholtz@geol.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661