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Re: cause of Gigantism in sauropods
I have a question regarding what may be known or stands to be
investigated here, as well.
IIRC, elephants have skin that can be as much as 10 centimeters thick
in places. If we were to assume for a moment that sauropods also had
skin of a similar proportionate thickness (not wrinkled or otherwise
comparable, just thick), and that this was capped by a layer of
relatively durable scales, a three-part question springs to mind:
1. How effective were large theropod teeth at sinking into a good
10-20 cm of leathery skin?
2. How much torque would be required to snap a large theropod's teeth
right out of its jaws?
3. How much torque could a flailing sauropod neck generate with a
single pull or twist? (Toward the base at least, since that's the part
closest to the ground in a big sauropod.)
This posits a lot of (currently) unanswerable questions, I know, but I
think the volumetric scaling of the inertia/momentum involved here
needs to be considered more closely. It seems to me that a ton or two
of collagen-fortified sauropod neck would be a rather nasty implement
for causing injuries to the jaws (wrenching), brain (concussion), or
even entire body, if they were to knock a multiton theropod right to
Size alone doesn't mean everything, although it certainly counts;
armament and temperament count for a lot too. I've seen the footage of
lions taking down 4+ ton elephants, but not once have I heard tell of
lions taking on rhinos, not even the small 1.5-ton black rhinos, which
are known to nap in the open in the middle of lion territory.
Morphology and behavior may not be directly testable here, but they
undoubtedly played a serious role.
That and juveniles are always a tasty snack.