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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 
mixtures. 

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 
soft ground.

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.

Happy Holidays.

--- On Sun, 12/13/09, David Marjanovic <david.marjanovic@gmx.at> wrote:

> From: David Marjanovic <david.marjanovic@gmx.at>
> Subject: Re: Diplodocus: Return to the Swamps????
> To: "DML" <dinosaur@usc.edu>
> 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. :-)
>