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New Papers in Manhattan

Jürgen Hummel, Carole T. Gee, Karl-Heinz Südekum, P. Martin Sander, Gunther 
Nogge, & Marcus Clauss (2008)  In vitro digestibility of fern and gymnosperm 
foliage: implications for sauropod feeding ecology and diet selection.  Proc. 
Biol. Sci. 275: 1015-1021

Abstract: "Sauropod dinosaurs, the dominant herbivores throughout the Jurassic, 
challenge general rules of large vertebrate herbivory.  With body weights 
surpassing those of any other megaherbivore, they relied almost exclusively on 
pre-angiosperm plants such as gymnosperms, ferns and fern allies as food 
sources, plant groups that are generally believed to be of very low nutritional 
quality.  However, the nutritive value of these taxa is virtually unknown, 
despite their importance in the reconstruction of the ecology of Mesozoic 
herbivores.  Using a feed evaluation test for extant herbivores, we show that 
the energy content of horsetails and of certain conifers and ferns is at a 
level comparable to extant browse.  Based on our experimental results, plants 
such as _Equisetum_, _Araucaria_, _Ginkgo_ and _Angiopteris_ would have formed 
a major part of sauropod diets, while cycads, tree ferns and podocarp conifers 
would have been poor sources of energy.  Energy-rich but slow-fermenting
 _Araucaria_, which was globally distributed in the Jurassic, was probably 
targeted by giant, high-browsing sauropods with their presumably very long 
ingesta retention times.  Our data make possible a more realistic calculation 
of the daily food intake of an individual sauropod and improve our 
understanding of how large herbivorous dinosaurs could have flourished in 
pre-angiosperm ecosystems."

I haven't seen this paper, so I don't know anything about the content....

Poore, S.O.  The morphological basis of the arm-to-wing transition.  J. Hand 
Surg. 33: 277-280. 

Abstract: "Human-powered flight has fascinated scientists, artists, and 
physicians for centuries. This history includes Abbas Ibn Firnas, a Spanish 
inventor who attempted the first well-documented human flight; Leonardo da 
Vinci and his flying machines; the Turkish inventor Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi; and 
the modern aeronautical pioneer Otto Lilienthal.  These historic figures held 
in common their attempts to construct wings from man-made materials, and though 
their human-powered attempts at flight never came to fruition, the ideas and 
creative elements contained within their flying machines were essential to 
modern aeronautics.  Since the time of these early pioneers, flight has 
continued to captivate humans, and recently, in a departure from creating wings 
from artificial elements, there has been discussion of using reconstructive 
surgery to fabricate human wings from human arms.  This article is a 
descriptive study of how one might attempt such a reconstruction and in doing 
so calls
 upon essential evidence in the evolution of flight, an understanding of which 
is paramount to constructing human wings from arms.  This includes a brief 
analysis and exploration of the anatomy of the 150-million-year-old fossil 
_Archaeopteryx lithographica_, with particular emphasis on the skeletal 
organization of this primitive bird's wing and wrist.  Additionally, certain 
elements of the reconstruction must be drawn from an analysis of modern birds 
including a description of the specialized shoulder of the European starling, 
_Sturnus vulgaris_.  With this anatomic description in tow, basic calculations 
regarding wing loading and allometry suggest that human wings would likely be 
nonfunctional.  However, with the proper reconstructive balance between 
primitive (_Archaeopteryx_) and modern (_Sturnus_), and in attempting to 
integrate a careful analysis of bird anatomy with modern surgical techniques, 
the newly constructed human wings could function as cosmetic features 
 for example, the nonfunctional wings of flightle!
ss birds.


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