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Re: Sauropod Necks

You're right...absent minded Rob. However, these animals, even with their extended necks, are still orders of magnitude smaller than a sauropod. A long neck on a goose, for example, may help it get the top of the blade of grass, or the bottom of the blade of grass, but it is still the same blade of grass. However, a multi-ton sauropod with a 30 foot long neck gives it the option of two different types of vegitation; low lying shrub-type vegitation, or high-up leaves of trees.
After going over what stuff I have on sauropods (being pitifuly little), it seems to me like the only problem I could see with sauropods being able to raise their necks (beyond blood suply) would be the neural crest of the vertebrae hitting against one another, efectively locking the neck. It seems that this would still allow the animal to raise it's head and neck to a good height above the ground, because it appears that the front of the vertebra is flattened, allowing more room for the overlap of the presceding crest to go down, while the front of that vertebra goes up. It seems like this process would build off of itself, so while each vertebra might only be a few degrees different, the begining and end vertebrae would be in completely differnet orientations from each other. I think of it like taking your finger and bending it backwards. Each bone will only go so far, but the next one will be able to go it's limit + the angle past the vertical it's reposing at because of the preceding bone. However, I am only going off of a few pictures of sauropod skeletons, my finger, and a couple of drawings of sauropod vertebrae, so I could be wrong in my assesment of the potential/not-so-potnetial limtiations. If anyone is closer to better material than my meager sources, I would love to hear what they think on this.
AIM: TarryAGoat

From: Betty Cunningham <bettyc@flyinggoat.com>
Reply-To: bettyc@flyinggoat.com
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: Sauropod Necks
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 20:54:27 -0700

you skip geese, herons, egrets, swans, cormorants, etc, in your long
neck species list, and we don't mention snakes either.

the long- neck birds are QUITE a bit more diverse than the giraffes are.


Rob Gay wrote:
> However, the only existing animal with a excedingly long neck is the
> giraffe, which uses it's neck for tree-top browsing, filling in a niche that
> it is not really competing with other animals for.
> However, there were a greater diversity of sauropods than there are
> giraffes. It would seem that so many of these large types of animals
> competing for the same food source could be quite taxing on the environment.
> Herds of Diplodocus and Apatosaurs roaming the terrain either all feeding on
> grasses, each eating a semi-circle with a 30' radius, or all feeding on tree
> branches, denuding all the foliage below 50' (using the tripod idea). Seems
> like an ecologicaly dangerous idea. Someone mentioned that these sauropods
> were like the first combined harvesters. Well, I don't know how much
> everyone here knows about agriculture, but in order for a crop to be
> productive, the same ground should not be planted again and again each year.
> This leaches the minerals and nutrients vital to plant growth from the soil.
> After several years, the total vegitation output is greatly reduced from the
> first year's harvest.
> I think that brachiosaurids are a different case than the diplodocids. It
> would seem that their longer front legs would exclude ground-level foraging.

-- Flying Goat Graphics http://www.flyinggoat.com (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology member) -------------------------------------------<,D,><

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