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Re: Sauropod-eating snakes

Mike Habib <habib@jhmi.edu> wrote:

> Fair question. There are several skeletomuscular correlates
> of large-prey constricting behavior in living boiids, at
> least, so if the myology can be put together with any
> confidence for the new specimens then the problem should be
> somewhat approachable. It might, however require more prep
> from the slab, or else some serious imaging.

Thanks.  Also, what I was thinking of is that the respiratory apparatus of 
non-avian dinosaurs might have made them less vulnerable to constriction by 
snakes.  Mammals have diaphragmatic ventilation and tidal breathing, which 
might render them highly susceptible to suffocation-by-constriction.  Birds, 
which have a sternocostal pump for lung ventilation, are a piece of cake (so to 
speak), because all the snake has to do is stop the motion of the bird's 
sternum in order to shut down respiration.

If non-avian dinosaurs had a combination of costal- and gastric-driven 
aspiration, with the dorsally-positioned lungs fed by multiple air sacs, then 
this entire arrangement might have been more of a challenge for a snake that 
subdues large prey by constriction.  Not impossible - just more difficult 
compared to mammal-style or avian-style or even crocodilian-style breathing.

(I'm not taking this idea of mine too seriously, and I'm quite happy to have it 
go down in flames.)