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Re: Diplodocus: Return to the Swamps????
All the large sauropods would have done great in swamps -- good temp control,
*safety from giant theropods*, all-in-all a real R&R zone for the big ones.
Probably good forage too, especially around the edges. Note that I mean the
sauropod is _in_ the swamp, reaching OUT and nibbling around the edges, NOT
standing on the edge, reaching into the swamp. Maintaining terrestrial
competence was necessary for reproduction, overland journeys, and (perhaps
seasonal?) opportunistic foraging.
A lot of people who have no experience w/ large animals or swamps, and _haven't
thought the physics through carefully_ have the purely intuitive notion that
large size makes soft ground the equivalent of certain death. "Gosh, they so
big, they would mire immediately" and "Wouldn't they have webbed feet?" seem to
be popular and less than rigorous arguments.
Going by previous discussions, I don't really expect anyone posting onlist on
this subject to think/discuss critically and objectively the implications of
long legs, low surface to volume ratios, high buoyancy and massive amounts of
raw power; or to research what is known about the relative 'mire-ability' of
extant biota for that matter. That said, I certainly won't be surprised to see
a paper in the next year or so by someone who has realized that being big is
usually _good_ in a swamp, and being huge is even better. Especially a really
large coastal swamp...
Parties interested in improving our knowledge of sauropod ecology might
consider this before committing to the 'new old-school' consensus that David M.
mentions: apparently all the old-timer scientists who worked _prior_ to the
shift to the internal combustion engine ASSUMED that sauropods would do well in
swamps. These were very bright people who worked w/ animals _in the field_ all
their lives. It was only after a new generation w/ absolutely _no_ working
experience beyond automobiles and trucks came along that everyone suddenly
"knew" sauropods were "too big and heavy" to "go near a swamp".
Uh, wheels are not legs, folk
ective mechanics are very different when traversing variable soil/water
Sauropods may or may not have spent large amounts of time in swamps, and that
concept may (or may not) be testable, but no large terrestrially competent
herbivore has ever been better suited _physically_ for doing so. Although
elephants seem to do very well currently. Their feet are very well-adapted to
That said, I have made no entry in Wikipedia, nor do I intend to. In my
opinion, the foregoing ideas don't belong there. Yet.
This is a long post, and I expect text to be chopped. I will repair
accordingly. Apologies in advance if double posting is necessary. Also, I may
not have time to rebut prior to the weekend.
--- On Sun, 12/13/09, David Marjanovic <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> From: David Marjanovic <email@example.com>
> Subject: Re: Diplodocus: Return to the Swamps????
> To: "DML" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Sunday, December 13, 2009, 5:35 PM
> > Is there really anybody
> suggesting that we put _Diplodocus_ back into
> > the swamps, or has somebody who's got no clue
> what they are talking
> > about edited this bit into Wiki?
> Neither nor. The idea that some sauropods were sort of
> semiaquatic or at least stood on river banks and ate water
> plants cropped up occasionally in the early 1990s or so.
> It's dead, however, and I'll erase it from Wikipedia if you
> don't beat me to it.
> Also, everyone, please stop calling Wikipedia "Wiki".
> Wikipedia is one wiki out of thousands. :-)