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Re: Long Horizontal Necks Re: Vertebrae of Early Sauropods

--- "Richard W. Travsky" <rtravsky@uwyo.edu> wrote:
> On Wed, 31 Mar 2004, Graydon wrote:
> Actually, knocking the foliage/trees/whatever down
> is a nice use
> of the neck. Puts the food down at browsing level.
> Don't know how 
> heavily muscled the necks were - some, no doubt - in
> order to do this.
> Perhaps the vertebrae would show some signs of
> having been used in this
> fashion?
With the exception of Apatosaurus,I don't think that
sauropods were in the habit of smashing through
branches to reach edible forage and even less likely
to have knocked down entire trees. If they were
adapted to vertical feeding, there would be little
advantage to expending energy in knocking down
vegetation that was more easily accessed by rearing
up. They would also be damaging a limited food
resource-- the likelihood that forests were patchy
rather than continous during the Morrison (see John
Foster, Paleoecological Analysis of the Vertebrate
Fauna of the Morrison Formation, Bulletin 23, New
Mexico Museuim of Natural History and Science) also
means that a group of sauropods would probably not
have stayed long in one place, having to move on after
depleting the browse in that one locality.  With
growth rates of conifers and other food plants
probably being geared to a "wet and dry" monsoonal
type of climate, it wouldn't be to the advantage of
sauropods' overall survival strategy to heavily damage
or kill trees that may have formed their main food

--Mark Hallett   

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