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Re: How Sauropods Got So Big



Anthony Docimo wrote:

> Just a thought  -  is it possible that monkeypuzzles and horsetails 
> used to be more nutritional, but faced with competition from
> fast-regrowing flowering plants, took the "less edible" approach to 
> survival?


It's an interesting question.  I would say that eventually evolution tends to 
allow herbivores get around whatever the plant throws out them.  Sauropods 
don't appear to have been an exception in this respect.


Any plant is "edible", so long as the herbivore has the metabolic machinery to 
extract the necessary nutrients and/or neutralize any plant toxins.  It 
certainly helps that it's the microbes in the gut that do the heavy lifting so 
the cellulose can be degraded.


The following paper by Butler &c mentions some of these issues, and has a nice 
discussion of animal-cycad interactions (past and present):

http://dml.cmnh.org/2009Feb/msg00141.html


Of course, as any mother will tell you, the answer to the question "How did 
sauropods get so big?" is "Because they ate their vegetables!"


Cheers

Tim