Friday, 10 Oct, 2008 Environment

Dinosaur King Size Secret


A new study offered a suggestion that dinosaurs called sauropods grew to enormous sizes and evolved successfully partly because they swallowed food whole without chewing it.

Sauropods can be considered the largest land animals that ever inhabited our planet as their weight reached up to 88 tons and their height was about 23 feet.

Researchers suppose that these animals grew huge in order to protect themselves from being eaten by big predators such as Tyrannosaurus rex. But the reason of their extraordinary evolution is still a mystery.

It is supposed that the herbivores which are also called plant-eaters didn’t have any teeth and gulped down their food whole. They grazed on vast territories consuming quickly great amounts of greenery. Martin Sander, a paleontologist at the University of Bonn in Germany, said that they needed long necks so they could reach food that grew high as well as a good alimentary tract to digest unchewed food. He explained that if they had to chew everything they ate their head would have a lot of teeth being too heavy for a long neck.

In order to survive sauropods needed not only to consume a lot of food, but also to advance quickly and acquire their full size before being eaten. Samples of sauropod bones prove the theory of their fast development. A 22-pound hatchling became a 220,000-pound just in 20-30 years.

Sander also said that sauropods produced a large number of offspring at a time which helped them to survive after a catastrophe. Modern mammals, such as elephants, procreate fewer offspring which increases their chances to become extinct. So why don’t gigantic elephants and crocodiles exist nowadays? Scientists consider that reptiles, such as crocodiles, continue egg-laying, but their cold blood hinders them in attaining huge sizes. As for mammals, they have warm blood, but still they can’t beome bigger as they chew their food and reproduce slowly.

Source: National Geographic
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Posted by sharaeff

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