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Regardless of whether sauropods were meant to wade and swim in deep
water, I'll wager that they did so anyway.
The large sauropod trackway sites in the North American Interior strongly
suggest that sauropods traveled distances in large groups. Inevitably,
they would have to cross a large deep river. With a shoulder height of,
what, 7 meters?, Camarosaurus probably could walk across many points on
today's Mississippi River, although its lungs would have been deeply
submerged during the crossing.
If Camarosaurus' lungs did not work well when its torso was submerged,
then it is likely that the animal simply suspended its breathing until it
got to the opposite shore of the river. Considering that the brain of
sauropods was small, its oxygen requirements was probably equally small,
so a hiatus in breathing would impart no ill effects. The ability to
suspend breathing for long periods of time may have given these animals a
An added advantage: Head position while the sauropod is in the water
becomes irrelevant if breathing is temporarily suspended.
On Wed, 11 Jan 2006 06:05:12 -0800 (PST) Jorge Dichenberg
> --- firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
> > 2) RE: sauropod lung collapse
> I think most sauropods were terrestial. But
> theoretically some could be semi-aquatic like hippos.
> They would swim and dive, feed underwater and
> resurface to breathe holding neck horizontaly and back
> above water. Nothing in physics prevents it.
> Old theory that sauropod couldn't breathe underwater
> is based on old interpretation: sauropod was much
> heavier than water, walked on bottom, didn't swim,
> raised neck vertically as snorkel.
> That old scientist overlooked one thing. All living
> animals have density around that of water. So even
> heaviest animals become weightless and can swim well
> (unless have armor, which sauropods lacked). Hippos
> and elephants are good swimmers.
> One question is how close sauropod density was that to
> water. This is too fine to discover experimentally,
> because needs knowing exact relative amount of
> muscles, fat, bones, lungs and we only know bones.
> Even if typical sauropod was a little heavier than
> water, evolving buyoance was easy. Fat and air sacs
> are lighter than water. Average sauropod could
> actually be lighter than water and have trouble with
> diving, not with breathing on the surface.
> Interestingly, the same physics allows us to restore
> behavior of extinct marine reptiles. Long-necked
> plesiosaur must have gone to the surface with body and
> neck almost horizontal. Only then it could breathe.
> Same applies to short-necked plesiosaur, ichtyosaur,
> whale and every big, air-breathing animal underwater.
> If famous Loch Ness monster existed, it too must have
> swim horizontally just below the surface of the lake
> every time it needed a breath. Scottish tourists would
> quickly see humps on its back and mystery would be
> quickly solved. ;)
> Jerzy Dyczkowski
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