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Re: Sauropod Biology
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sim Koning" <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 4:48 PM
I think to get a general idea on sauropod lifestyle, we should NOT look at
giraffes, or elephants or anything mammalian for that matter. The animals
that should be compared with sauropods are their ancestors, the
prosauropods. Consider Plateosaurus, this animal was not a high browser or
a low browser, it was both. This animal was the first dinosaur to graze
from *trees* high above the ground. It reared up onto its hind legs and
used its large thumb claws to pull down branches, not unlike later
therizinosaurs or giant ground sloths. The long neck was clearly an
adaptation for high browsing from trees while in a *tripodal* position.
Which adaptations for a tripodal stance can you find in *Plateosaurus*?
This was likely the key to sauropod success,
the fact that they were able to feed from the ground equally as well as
could feed from the tree tops. Sauropods were probably generalist
that could feed from any level.
This does not explain why there sometimes were so many different species in
the same place at (it appears) the same time.
There were probably specialist sauropods such as Brachiosaurus and
Dicraeosaurus. With its high shoulders, Brachiosaurus was likely a high
browser like giraffes and Indricotherium, while Dicraeosaurus, with its
*short* neck, was a specialist low browser. As with all specialists, these
forms were prone to extinction, which is probably why the Brachiosaurs
out not long after the Jurassic.
Well... *Sauroposeidon*, which was bigger rather than smaller than
*Brachiosaurus*, is... how old? Aptian? That would be, like, 120 Ma...
that's 25 Ma after the end of the Jurassic... Dicraeosaurids
(*Amargasaurus*) and rebbachisaurids survived for a similar length of time.