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Re: Why Air Sacs?
All ornithischians that was not fully quadrupedal, was facultative
bipedal or there was fully bipedal ornithischians (the basal
ornithischian that you mention bellow?)?
The basalmost ornithischians (_Pisanosaurus_, _Lesothosaurus_, even
heterodontosaurids) seem to be fully bipedal, even when not known from
terrific specimens. Very ornithischian-like dinosauriforms, which I suppose
have the potential to expand what we know of the term "ornithischian" (e.g.,
_Silesaurus_, possibly _Sacisaurus_) may have been quadrupedal or
facultatively bipedal. But as before, air sacs are being touted as only
_one_ possible component of bipedalism, not the _only_ possible one.
Hmmm... A huge muscular tail was not more important to place the
center of gravity well above the area between hindfeet?
I think the long tails are thought to function, at least initially (in
addition to a place to anchor caudofemoralis musculature, etc.), as a
_balance_ to keep the center of gravity as close as possible to the actual
locomotory organs, not to keep the center of gravity very high off the
ground. As has been pointed out numerous times elsewhere, a higher center
of gravity makes roll-overs and overall balance much more difficult than a
lower center of gravity, as anyone who's ever owned a Jeep C-5 of C-7 can
attest. So we're not talking here about the craniocaudal position of the
center of gravity, but the dorsoventral position, although the former is, of
course, important, too.
If we did not stick hard with evidences we'll end up with another
"just so" history.
Perhaps, but all hypotheses such as these are necessarily hypotheses,
not theories or "proof," simply because the only way to tell if they really
are correct would be to build a time machine and go back and see for
ourselves. But this particular hypothesis does explain much of the evidence
as it appears presently in the fossil record, so it's a viable one. Perhaps
not the _only_ one, but one nonetheless.
Jerry D. Harris
Director of Paleontology
Dixie State College
225 South 700 East
St. George, UT 84770 USA
Phone: (435) 652-7758
Fax: (435) 656-4022
"Trying to estimate the divergence times
of fungal, algal or prokaryotic groups on
the basis of a partial reptilian fossil and
protein sequences from mice and humans
is like trying to decipher Demotic Egyptian with
the help of an odometer and the Oxford
-- D. Graur & W. Martin (_Trends
in Genetics_ 20, 2004)