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Re: Sauropod ONP...and energetics
Regarding the question sauropod neck posture energetics (why have such a
long "expensive" neck to graze when the animal can more easily just take a
step or two?) there has been one important factor left out because it is
entirely speculative: the temperment of these animals.
For arguments sake, let's say that in general sauropods had an aggressive
temperment.Let's say also that adult sauropods were protected from predators
by their size.And let's grant that although sauropods were gregarious,that
their food requirements dictated that individuals needed to lay claim to
large area in which to feed.
In this scenario,the long whiplash tails were not used primarily for
protection from predators, but for use to put space between individual
sauropods,that each individual within the group created around itself a sort
of movable territory,and that the long neck was useful for gathering up the
food within this "bubble".Given their huge size and simple brains,this seems
like a viable explanation for the outrageously long necks AND tails of some
sauropods--that they formed a loop.
If a sauropod individual strayed into another ones space,instead of a full
on fight between two gigantic creatures,the invader recieves a tail slap
from the animal who's space it has wandered into,
it having first perhaps recieved a warning either vocal or from a snapping
whiplash sound from the wronged party. It seems that speaking energetically,
a tail slap is far more efficient than a full-on physical
confontation.Anther point: The tail seems rather high in the air to be
designed for whacking allosaurs.
Also,with this behavior perhaps very young sauropods could more easily
avoid being inadvertantly squashed by their elders,as there would be space
enough between the otherwise oblivious adults in which to maneuver .