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Re: Long-necked stegosaur coming out in Proceedings B

Ronald Orenstein wrote:

> It would seem to me far more
> likely that the long neck was evolved for foraging rather
> than predator defence.  

I tend to agree.  But the two ideas aren't mutually exclusive.  :-)  A longer 
neck may have afforded several benefits to a stegosaur.

> If it was to spot predators,
> why would this be so important for this particular stegosaur
> and not others? 

Maybe _Miragaia_ lived in a different kind of habitat to other stegosaurs - 
with denser vegetation, for example?

BTW Ron, in general terms - wouldn't your question apply to *any* novel 
adaptation?  For example, why do certain Chinese sauropods have tail clubs, but 
not the rest?  Why do some ceratopsids have three horns, whereas others have 
only one?  Individual species or clades adapt to their own particular 
circumstances.  Were the challenges that led to neck elongation in _Miragaia_ 
unique to this stegosaur; or were these same (or similar) challenges 
encountered by other stegosaurs, but resolved in other ways (or not at all, and 
the line went extinct)?

> However, if this animal was
> contemporaneous and sympatric with other stegosaurs, a
> longer neck might have been of advantage to avoid
> competition by browsing at a differen level or on different
> plants.  Alternatively, it could have lived in an area
> where the nature of the vegetation made a longer neck more
> advantageous.

Yes, I agree.  But this also speaks to a possible advantage of a longer neck in 
spotting nearby predators when the herbivore is immersed in thick vegetation.