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How Sauropods Got So Big

Richard W. Travsky writes:
 > 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. "

That was discussed on-list at the time.  The reference is:

        Hummel, Jürgen, Carole T. Gee, Karl-Heinz Südekum, P. Martin
        Sander, Gunther Nogge and Marcus Clauss.  2008.  In vitro
        digestibility of fern and gymnosperm foliage: implications for
        sauropod feeding ecology and diet selection.  Proceedings of
        the Royal Society B (Published online).

Stupidly, the Royal Society seems to have reorganised its site in such
a way that its DOIs no longer work.  Since the whole point of a DOI is
to be a persistent identifier, you really have to wonder what they're
thinking.  I found it here, though:

The PDF is free.  Enjoy!

 _/|_    ___________________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor    <mike@indexdata.com>    http://www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "Not raw -- cooked" -- Monty Python's Flying Circus.