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Re: Sauropod ONP...and energetics

while the idea of intra species combat makes sense, I think there are cases where sauropod footprints clearly show these animals moving close to each other with the young towards the center of the herd. This suggests cooperative rather than selfish behavior, but who knows, this all just speculation obviously =)

From: Scott Selberg <ssselberg@hotmail.com>
Reply-To: ssselberg@hotmail.com
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: Sauropod ONP...and energetics
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2006 17:14:40 +0000

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 .

Scott Selberg

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