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Re: Brachiosaur flexibility and face-shape (Was: Terra Nova: thoughts)

On 28 September 2011 13:21, David Marjanovic <david.marjanovic@gmx.at> wrote:
> Am 28.09.2011 10:37, schrieb Mike Taylor:
>>  On 27 September 2011 22:27, David Marjanovic
>>  <david.marjanovic@gmx.at> wrote:
>> >> That would be one of the few things that Kent and we WOULD agree
>> >> on. Assuming that brachiosaurs drank, they would have needed the
>> >> ventral flexibility to get their heads down to ground level.
>> >
>> > I assume their shoulder mobility didn't allow the giraffe
>> > workaround to this problem?
>>  [...]
>>  ... and now I realise you were talking about flexibility of the
>>  forelimb, right?
> Yes. Giraffes are _not_ able to reach the ground with the head while
> standing normally; they have to sprawl their forelimbs. Thus, all else being
> equal, we can't simply assume that sauropods _must_ have been able to reach
> the ground.

Well, I think we can.  Remember that sauropods had twice as many
cervicals as giraffes, and they were proportionally longer to boot.
The giraffe in fact has a pitifully short neck compared with the rest
of its body, unlike most, maybe all, sauropods.

> My question was how much else _was_ equal: were sauropods able
> to sprawl their forelimbs? Apparently, *Brachiosaurus* was the only one.

Well, maybe.  I wouldn't want to put TOO much weight on a single
deflected glenoid.  It could be pathology of the individual, or it
could be that Brachiosaurus just ossified more of what would be
cartilaginous in other sauropods.

> Of course, the sheer number of neck vertebrae makes me confident that
> sauropods were easily able to reach the ground, and if not, there's the
> remote possibility that they didn't even need to drink -- various desert
> mammals manage this today, and that without the ability to pee uric acid
> crystals.

Ah, yes.  Forgot to mention that.  There is at least one published
sauropod worker who believes this was the case for Giraffatitan at
least, but since he or she has yet to publish that idea I won't
divulge the identity of the person in question.

> My point is just that it shouldn't be an unquestioned assumption
> that sauropods were able to lower their heads the ground while standing.

Not quite, no.  But pretty darned close.