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Sauropod necks

On Tue, 19 Sep 1995, Betty Cunningham wrote:

>OK, OK, OK...so a bunch of sauropods of different sizes and ages are
> wandering around in a conifer forest. One of the big ones goes up to a
> and then the tree falls over. Sequoias have nortoriously shallow root
>systems. Sequoia californica(George?), the coastal one is always falling   
>on roads in the winter during high winds. Wouldn't a multi-ton animal   
leaning >heavily on the base of one of those things knock it over? Then   
all the shorter >and younger saurapods scramble up to the end they can   
now reach while the >tall one goes back to browsing what it can reach   
without knocking trees >over."

If it didn't knock the tree over, it would certainly have bent it.   
Actually, bending the tree and extending the neck horizontally along the   
trunk to feed on the tree top (now much closer to the ground) may make   
some sense. Biomechanical modeling of sauropods by Kent Stevens and   
Michael Parrish (discussed in the November issue of Discover   
magazine--I'm not sure if they've published) suggests that some sauropods   
(Brachiosaurs in particular) may have had a very limited range of neck   
motion. If that is true, a "bend it and eat it" feeding behavior could   
explain the advantage of having a long neck that couldn't be used to   
elevate the head much above the horizontal. Not to mention the advantage   
of saving the tree for another meal on another day.