Was the sauropod dinosaurs’ large size due to plant food?
|Reconstruction of Paralititan Stromeri, a new, giant sauropod dinosaur [Credit: Telegraph]|
Dr Wilkinson and Professor Ruxton now argue that this South African idea about long necked sauropod dinosaurs being large based on the nature of the plant food they ate, is still a contender for explaining their size. As well as arguing that these ideas have been prematurely discarded the new work goes on the further develop this theory.
|Restoration of a rearing Diplodocus by Charles R. Knight, 1911 [Credit: WikiCommons]|
"Alternatively -- or in addition -- it would also have been potentially beneficial for the young to be carnivorous, as this would also have helped them access more nitrogen. The large adults plausibly used their size to help process large amounts of plant food to access enough scarce nitrogen, as suggested in the original 2002 study. However this would potentially have caused them to have to take in more energy than they needed. A mammal (and possibly also small sauropods) would get rid of this surplus as heat, but this would not be possible for a really large dinosaur. Potentially they may have laid down fat reserves instead. So one can even speculate that they may have had humps of fat rather like modern-day camels."
Source: British Ecological Society (BES) via AlphaGalileo [December 12, 2012]