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Spinosaur neck flexibility



(Speculation Warning...)

Given that theropods for the most part couldn't chew (excepting
therizinosaurs, if they're still considered theropods), and given that
the skull of Suchomimus was only 15 cm in width for much of its length
(about 10% of its total length), I'd say that spinosaurs in general
probably had enough flexibility in their necks to be able to twist the
skull from side to side. Logic is as follows:

If spinosaurs were feeding on very large fish (perhaps too large to
swallow whole in some cases, given their narrow skulls), and on
iguanodontid remains (either hunted or scavenged, take your pick), they
must have been able to pull things apart to feed on them. Crocs feed on
large items by twisting their entire bodies (as do some sharks),
although this is not something that would be practical for a theropod
body plan. Crocs sometimes only have to resort to shaking their heads
vigourously from side to side, and spinosaurs may well have done this as
well, although from what I can see from the skull of Suchomimus, it may
have been structurally better at withstanding mild torsional forces than
vigorous lateral shaking, especially if the bulk of the weight was
clamped at the very end of the jaws in the rosette. Note that I am not a
structural mechanic, so take this with a grain of salt.

Given also that spinosaur teeth lacked the large serrations
and blade-like cross sections evident in many theropods, if they DID
feed on large items, and DID use their jaws to twist pieces of meat off,
then logic suggests that they could twist their heads about to a certain
degree. Whether the entire length of the neck was involved, or just the
cranial end, is another matter.

There is the chance that the robust forelimbs and enlarged thumb claws
may have been used to pull things apart, although given the short
length of the forelimbs (the manus is longer than the forearm in
Suchomimus and Baryonyx) this may not have been practical. I envisage
spinosaurs using their toothy rosette to grasp pieces of flesh, and
using a twisting action to tear off a bite-sized chunk (since their
narrow skulls would seem to preclude the swallowing of really big
chunks). Sort of like a cross between a crocodile and a bear (since
bears also feed on fish on occasions, and choose to tear them apart
rather than swallow them whole). Like crocs and bears, they may have had
a wide dietary repertoire.

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Dann Pigdon                   Australian Dinosaurs:
GIS Archaeologist           http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.alphalink.com.au/~dannj/
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