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How Sauropods Got So Big




Longish article at

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20127001.400-how-the-largest-dinosaurs-got-so-big.html

Some interesting and new - to me - collected bits. Such as


" The nutrients from this huge unchewed meal would have been extracted by lengthy microbial fermentation inside their huge torsos. That, however, posed yet another problem. As flowering plants did not evolve until late in the sauropods' reign, their diet was limited to plants such as monkey puzzles, ginkgos and horsetails. According to animal nutritionist Jrgen Hummel at the University of Bonn, it is commonly believed that such fodder is of exceptionally low nutritional quality. How did the sauropods manage to survive on this restricted diet?


Hummel set about trying to find out. In 2008, he simulated dinosaur digestion by placing samples of these primitive plants among the gut microbes of sheep. It turns out that many of the plants were more nutritious than they had been given credit for. "When you give the ancient plants enough time, they are digested quite reasonably. A long retention time in the digestive tract of a sauropod would have been the solution," he says. "