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Re: grass

Anthony Docimo writes:

Their pointed beaks tend to suggest otherwise (unless there was bamboo around). If you tried to graze with a pointy beak, you'd end up eating more dirt than grass.

only if the grass was as short as some people keep their lawns....on the other hand, tall grass would easily be within reach.

The pointed beaks and enormous jaw muscles of ceratopians would seem to be overkill for eating grass - unless they were designed more for personal defense than food consumption. Overall though, ceratopian mouths seem better designed from snipping off tough vegetation (or the occasional theropod arm or shin).

The basic ceratopian jaw mechanics didn't seem to change much from Protoceratops onwards (except for becoming bigger and more powerful). I'm not sure when the supposed grass phytoliths dated to, but unless grasses (in some form or another) were around since Protoceratops, then I doubt that ceratopian feeding behaviours changed all that radically. If they were to become specialist grazers later on, I'd expect radical changes in the shape of the beak (compare the muzzle shapes of mainly-browsing black rhinos to mainly-grazing white rhinos).

Of course, since only phytoliths are known, then no-one really knows what these supposed Mesozoic grasses looked like. If they were more like bamboo than modern lawns then ceratopian jaw mechanics may have been well suited to exploiting them. I think there are too many 'maybes' concerning Mesozoic grass (if it existed at all) to be able to make any assumptions of its ecological role.


Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist         http://heretichides.soffiles.com
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs