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Science

Dinosaur Posture Still Wrong, Says Study 226

Posted by kdawson
from the sit-up-straight dept.
An anonymous reader sends along a piece in Cosmos about new dissension to the current prevailing wisdom on dinosaur posture. The researchers admit that blood pressure presents an unresolved obstacle to their model of dinosaur heads held high. "The current depiction of the way giant sauropod dinosaurs held their necks is probably wrong, says a new study. 'For the last decade the reigning paradigm in palaeontology has been that the big sauropod dinosaurs held their necks out straight and their heads down low,' said co-author Matt Wedel, who researches biomechanics at the Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. But 'our research [now] suggests that this view of sauropods is simply incorrect, based on everything we know about living animals,' he said." The researchers worried that some other team might beat them to publication, so obvious did they consider their methodology of looking at living animals to gain insight into the biomechanics of extinct ones.
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Dinosaur Posture Still Wrong, Says Study

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  • AW... (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Living Fractal (162153) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <rratnanab>> on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:44PM (#28185823) Homepage

    Guess this means there was no Stuckupasaurus? You know, the snooty dinosaur who thought it was better than all the others and walked around holding its head high and looking down its nose at the others? ...ok, wow, THAT was lame.

    I apologize.

  • TFA Is slashdotted (Score:5, Informative)

    by TinBromide (921574) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:45PM (#28185837)
    So they looked at a giraffe and decided that the giraffe may be a suitable long-necked living animal? Unfortunately TFS only says that the horizontal configuration is incorrect, and I can't get to the article to see how they posit that long-necked animals posture themselves. So, I'm suggesting that the long neck is held vertically as a way of gaining extra height for food reach, reaching the ground, and longer range vision without the increased bulk of longer legs, taller body, etc.
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:55PM (#28185985)

      The with the vertical posture is blood pressure and the energy required to move blood to the head. Supposedly, just moving blood up the neck to the head would require have the dinosaurs energy and a heart 15 times bigger (as a ratio of body mass) than the hearts of other large animals.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TinBromide (921574)
        Since I couldn't get to the article (still can't), I was extrapolating the posture of living long necked animals. Off hand, I can't think of any long necked animals that don't keep it in a vertical configuration, it seems like it'd be a waste to have a long neck without the defensive/food advantages that go along with it. It'd be like bats evolving wings, but not having the pectoral muscles to flap them enough to fly.
        • by Captain Hook (923766) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:19PM (#28186299)
          But having a 15 ft long neck which is held horizontal means you can browse a 30ft wide path without moving (or perhaps while moving slowly in one direction), the energy saving for being able to browse a large swath of ground without moving must be large when you weight a few tonnes.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            But having a 15 ft long neck which is held horizontal means you can browse a 30ft wide path without moving (or perhaps while moving slowly in one direction), the energy saving for being able to browse a large swath of ground without moving must be large when you weight a few tonnes.

            Ever held your arm out straight and put a large book on your palm & tried to keep from moving? The idea that solving for the blood pressure problem by having horizontal necks makes more sense than solving for the muscle fatigue problem by aligning the neck vertically is ludicrous.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by fractoid (1076465)

              Ever held your arm out straight and put a large book on your palm & tried to keep from moving?

              Reptile muscles work differently to mammalian muscles, I believe. That's why reptiles can hold awkward poses for hours at a time, while mammals tend to keep moving. Also, there's a difference between slow and fast muscles - you don't have any trouble holding your head balanced on top of your neck for 12 hours at a time, which actually takes quite a lot of strength. Contrariwise, your arm will contain mostly fast muscle fibres (unless you're a yoga or tai chi master) because it requires more strength on a mu

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Useful Wheat (1488675)

          You need a larger imagination. You have successfully described flying squirrels. I think they fit the category nicely for bats with wings that cannot fly. Go over to wikipedia and look at them for yourself. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_squirrel [wikipedia.org]

          They also have flying possums, but they lack the name recognition (thanks Rocky and Bullwinkle!).

          As an engineer, I have to design pumps to move fluid through pipes, and one of the biggest factors you have is the height at the destination of the fluid. Running t

          • But a flying squirrel has glide flaps, not wings. I have a pretty good imagionation, but have a hard time imagining a flying squirrel flapping its glide flaps hard enough to fly, there's a reason why plane wings are much longer side to side than they are horizontally: Drag. A flying squirrel has a surface that would turn it into a square which is sub optimal for flight, if you look at a bat's wing span, it trades robust arms (which flying squirrels have) for a gossamer wing membrane stretched over tiny bone
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by wildsurf (535389)
            When thinking about dinosaurs' long necks, it's helpful to consider the possibility that the atmosphere was much thicker [dinosaurtheory.com] back then. So fluids could be drawn much higher without introducing vacuum problems, and it also explains how such huge insects and proto-birds (e.g. pterodactyls) could have flown there. Interesting stuff.
        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Sort of like an ostrich's wings?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not really, giraffe's have valves in their neck arteries -- hence you don't need insane amount of blood pressure from the heart (the valves keep the blood from falling down after being pushed up).

        My guess is that these long-necked dinosaurs probably had valves in their arteries just as giraffes do today...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by init100 (915886)

          Not really, giraffe's have valves in their neck arteries -- hence you don't need insane amount of blood pressure from the heart (the valves keep the blood from falling down after being pushed up).

          Actually, most (all?) animals with a circulatory system have backflow prevention flaps in their veins. Having them in arteries is just a simple extension to this concept.

      • by Richy_T (111409) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @04:32PM (#28188221) Homepage

        Do they take account of the fact that the blood comes back down again? You might need a heart that size if you are pumping the blood at atmospheric pressure but if you keep the pressure built up on the veinous side, you just need to provide a pressure differential and to overcome viscous resistance.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by nyctopterus (717502)

          That is in a forthcoming paper according to their blog SV-POW! [wordpress.com] (Sauropod Vertebra Picture Of the Week.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rtb61 (674572)
        Of course if you had any dinosaurs left you could check to see whether major arteries were enclosed in musculature which assisted pumping the blood. Of course this evolutionary trait would be restricted only to major sauropods due to the inherent energy waste where it is not required and then perhaps only in the neck.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:59PM (#28186063) Journal

      So, I'm suggesting that the long neck is held vertically as a way of gaining extra height for food reach, reaching the ground, and longer range vision without the increased bulk of longer legs, taller body, etc.

      Not only that, but I'd conjecture that the long neck must have evolved vertically. The musculature required to hold a long neck like that horizontal must be enormous, and hardly an efficient way of bearing weight. Plus, is it any coincidence that the large dinosaur neckbones look kind of like hip bones, the primary vertical weight-bearing bone in people?

      And the BS about the massive tail counterbalancing a long neck... for that to work as an opposing force on the neck, with the body as a fulcrum... well... that would required the spine to be pretty rigid. I'm not sure how well that would work in practice.

      On a side note, have you ever seen a giraffe try to reach the ground with their head? It's pretty amusing. It reminds me of myself, trying to pick up my kids crayons from the floor... it's a whole lot of effort (what? so I'm not in shape or flexible. That's normal here, right?)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by whiledo (1515553) *

        Yes, it is rather awkward. [youtube.com] Not the best video I've seen, but the best I could find on youtube. I've seen some where it's a much longer drawn out process.

        When you see giraffes doing the neck-slapping thing, you can see how when their necks bend sideways, it's not a continuous curve but rather like a low-grade 3d render of one with vertices at each vertebra.

        • by lgw (121541)

          Giraffes don't have any extra vertebrae, so their necks are mostly rigid.

          Drinking water must be a challenge for a giraffe, as he can't "swallow up"!

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        have you ever seen a giraffe try to reach the ground with their head? Almost as amusing as watching a deer run up a flight of stairs. However, since giraffes do that on a regular basis to drink water, you'd think they would be better at it.
    • by erroneus (253617)

      Oh for God's sake! I thought this was put to rest a long time ago. The most famously known sauropod, the brontosaurus (I know they changed the name! I like the old one! Apata-whatever? Please! Thanks to the name Brontosaurus, every time I hear the word bronchitis I think of dinosaurs) has been established to have lived mostly submerged in the water. I'd say that even passing knowledge of how doing exercises in a pool helps the elderly recuperate should go a long way to aid in understanding how a mostl

      • by Binestar (28861) * on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @03:27PM (#28187243) Homepage
        http://www.unmuseum.org/dinobront.htm [unmuseum.org]

        Today, scientist's vision of the habits and habitat of the Apatosaurus are quite different than what Marsh and other early paleontologists had thought. Early analysis suggested that the animals must have been weak because their small heads could only chew the minimum amount of food necessary to fuel such a big body. So weak, in fact, that large sauropods were thought to be slow, unable to lift their bulky tails off the ground and only able to support their massive weight by living in shallow lakes and swamps where water floated their bulk.

        Paleontologists like Bakker showed that this image was wrong. No Apatosaurus skeleton has been found in an ancient body of water and its feet were not at all suited for walking through marshy and muddy ground. In fact, Bakker notes in his book Dinosaur Heresies, an analysis of changes in geology over time suggest that large sauropods moved out of areas as they became wet: they didn't like swamps at all.

    • by againjj (1132651) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @05:36PM (#28189039)

      The original paper (at http://www.app.pan.pl/article/item/app54-213.html [app.pan.pl]) basically says that the "osteological neutral pose" (ONP) (basically the pose where the bones make maximal contact with each other) is not necessarily the pose most commonly held. Apparently, the first and only good study of neck and tail position concluded that the then currently accepted pose was unlikely and that ONP was probable, and then every one else simply accepted that without further study.

      The authors went looking at current animal poses and concluded two things. First, in modern animals, ONP is not always the pose held by default, and in fact assuming ONP as default in sauropods has some difficult-to-explain ramifications (though a vertical default does as well). Second, even if ONP is the default pose, there is generally much movement away from that pose for various activities in modern, like drinking and running, and so it is likely that sauropods had that too.

      The authors also, of course, hedge their bets and say that their ideas may be totally off if there is something they aren't aware of, like specialized tendon structure for the neck or other such things.

      In short: the authors say that the conclusion that sauropods have horizontal necks was based on assumptions that are unsound.

      Oh, and TFA:

      BRISBANE: The current depiction of the way giant sauropod dinosaurs held their necks is probably wrong, says a new study.

      "For the last decade the reigning paradigm in palaeontology has been that the big sauropod dinosaurs held their necks out straight and their heads down low," said co-author Matt Wedel, who researches biomechanics at the Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California.

      But "our research [now] suggests that this view of sauropods is simply incorrect, based on everything we know about living animals," he said.

      Unrealistic posture

      According to the report in the report in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, sauropods held their necks up in the same way as many living vertebrates, in a swan-like 's' curve, rather than in the horizontal pose commonly shown in everything from museum reconstructions to plastic toys.

      For many decades, scientists supposed that sauropods had long necks so they could browse high in the treetops and depicted them, like giraffes, with their heads held high. But a 1999 Science paper led to a shift in the way sauropods were shown.

      The authors of that paper argued that the habitual pose of an animal's neck could be easily found by lining up the vertebrae in maximum contact, which gave a horizontal pose for most sauropods. Estimates of blood pressure also suggested that it would have been very difficult for sauropods to pump their blood up to such a height.

      Blood pressure problem

      "The problem is, living animals don't hold their necks in that posture," Wedel said. After stumbling across a paper from the 1980s that showed that most land animals held their necks vertically, Wedel's team looked for clues to sauropod posture in X-rays of living animals.

      They found that reptiles and amphibians held their necks mostly horizontally, while mammals and birds (which are more closely related to dinosaurs and share their upright leg structures) all held their necks vertically.

      Studying the neck movements of living creatures also suggested that sauropods had a greater range of movement than previously thought.

      While scientists had assumed that the dinosaur neck vertebrae overlapped each other by around 50%, that's not true for living creatures like ostriches and giraffes, which can extend their necks till the vertebrae hardly overlap at all.

      Their method was so simple that the team was worried someone else would publish the findings before they could. "We did get a bit paranoid... it just seemed so obvious that if you want to know what extinct animals did, you shoul

    • Huh? Why would a dinosaur be emo?

      It's not like my lawn in sleepytime, where I get to be a Viking but my lawn is emo because it cuts itself.

      I'm sure there's something to your joke, but I just don't get it... can you explain?
  • Two Things (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:47PM (#28185865) Journal
    Why are we arguing over which position was the default when it's entirely possible that they utilized both positions. Down low for traveling to avoid blood pressure problems and up high for brief states of alert or reaching high food sources? With the flexibility of the vertebrae, I would assume the animal would use it however it most suited them for the time being.

    The other thing is how much do we know about the tissues and proteins that made up muscles and blood in Sauropods? Is it possible that they were much stronger or their blood had different properties making it capable of overcoming the blood pressure problem?

    I've seen exhibits that portray them both ways [wikipedia.org]. You just might have to accept that you're never going to know for sure ...

    ... until you CLONE THEM!

    *starts humming the Jurrasic Park theme song with a creepy grin on his face*
    • I suspect that the real case here is that some of today's scientists are holding their heads rather higher than they need to be in this 'race' to publication.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MaXintosh (159753)
      Clone them, or get some better impressions of soft tissue. I expect we'll eventually get some, given our history of finding such neat things, but I'm not holding my breath because it's like finding a needle in a haystack.
      Er, well, actually more like finding a rock among a planet full of other rocks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by techess (1322623)

        I agree until we get a better idea of the soft tissue we won't really know.

        Giraffes have a very cool way of improving their circulation without just throwing a bigger heart at the solution:
        http://news.softpedia.com/news/Some-Weird-Giraffe-Issues-80555.shtml [softpedia.com]

        "To pump the blood high to the brain, the heart of the giraffe is very large: up to 11 kg (25 pounds). The heart pushes 60 liters of blood per minute. The muscles of the neck arteries are relaxed with each heart beat, helping the propulsion of the blood t

    • Until there's a suitable time machine to enable you to go back and look for yourself.
      • by dzfoo (772245)

        By qualifying it as a "suitable" time machine, are you implying that we currently have time machines, albeit unsuitable to study dinosaurs?

                -dZ.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by the_humeister (922869)

          I don't know about yours, but my time machine only goes back to 4004 B.C.

          • by gnick (1211984)

            Mine goes pretty well as far as you need it to.

            The problem is that it only moves forward in time... And only at 1x...

            • by bb5ch39t (786551)

              mine seems to be going 1.1x and accelerating. Didn't a day used to be 24 hours? I'd swear it seems more like about 18 anymore.

          • I don't know about yours, but my time machine only goes back to 4004 B.C.

            Bummer...You got the "Old Testament" model.

        • Nope, I qualify it as "suitable", if the control panel (or facsimile thereof) matches the pattern of my favourite shooting jacket :-)
          Good point though :-P
        • by lgw (121541)

          A mirror is a time machine, for studying things in the past. To study dinosaurs, we'd need a really big mirror, really far away. We don't have a suitable one.

          • by Shimmer (3036)

            That's an interesting idea. Think about where the photons from the dinosaur age are now: 150 million light years from Earth, spread out in every direction. Gathering those photons so we can look at them now would be quite the achievement.

    • Down low for traveling to avoid blood pressure problems and up high for brief states of alert or reaching high food sources?

      That was the status quo that the authors of this piece are disputing. Down low is default, up high as needed.

      Re: their blood and blood pressure... liquid is liquid. Gravity is gravity. Pressure required to overcome gravity is just that. If you're suggesting that their tissues were so significantly different that they could withstand ridiculously high pressures, then fine... but I

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by spyfrog (552673)

        Well, then cloning have given us a cool dinosaur that we could use both to fix our lawns and to trim our trees! Multipurpose dino.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Understand that I am posing this as a real theory, but since we don't have a lot of the soft tissue, there is no way of knowing that the they didn't have more than one 'heart'. If their was a secondary, heart, or even many small pumps, there would be no need for extremely high blood pressure, one giant heart.
        • Well, I've read about this theory before, and while it is certainly possible, I think it's unlikely...

          No other vertebrates are observed to have multiple hearts. IIRC, the giraffe does have a mechanism to deal with the BP in the head (I think they can block off blood flow or something), and maybe a valve system would provide what's necessary...

          What if the major artery in the neck was capable of waves of constriction to force blood upwards, like milking a cow in reverse?

          As you say, lots of possibilities
          • Re:Two Things (Score:5, Insightful)

            by lgw (121541) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:50PM (#28186727) Journal

            Giraffe's have a rete mirabile [wikipedia.org] to avoid the head exploding when lowered. This sort of structure has evolved seperately in several unrelated species, so it's quite reasonable that the long-necked dinos had them. The dinos probably didn't need a large blood supply to the brain, the way a mammal does, so the requirements might not be so bad.

      • by bb5ch39t (786551)
        gravity is gravity

        You are assuming that G is constant over time and space. Some avant-garde scientists are beginning to wonder if this is true.

    • by rouge86 (608370)
      I spent the last half hour looking for Jurassic Park 4 because of you. Now, I am disappointed because it was most likely canceled with the death of Michael Crichton.
      • I spent the last half hour looking for Jurassic Park 4 because of you. Now, I am disappointed because it was most likely canceled with the death of Michael Crichton.

        Jurassic Park 4: Dinosaurmageddon! [penny-arcade.com]

    • Oh, if only... last I heard an atmospheric analysis of the dinosaur's era showed a significantly higher oxygen content than our own atmosphere, meaning any clone would probably be unable to breathe properly. And, since our sauropod problem deals with blood, something tells me the atmosphere would wreck the posture experiment. Damn shame, too, although at least we won't get anybody wondering what a t-rex was like and cloning one of it.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      "The other thing is how much do we know about the tissues and proteins that made up muscles and blood in Sauropods? Is it possible that they were much stronger or their blood had different properties making it capable of overcoming the blood pressure problem?"
      Umm have we found any animal that has blood or tissues that would solve that issue? Reptile, Bird, or Mammal?
      That seems like a huge leap with out some type of evidence of it existing in nature.

  • Oh, come on (Score:5, Funny)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:47PM (#28185873) Homepage Journal

    It was only 6000 years ago -- didn't anyone get any pictures?

    • See the reply to my thread by the AC, and you might have an idea of where the phones were at the time... Ouch.

    • Sadly, God Almighty did not inspire man to invent the camera until about 150 years ago, and by that time all the Dinosaurs had been eradicated for being unrepentant sinners, as they so righteously deserved.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:49PM (#28185903)

    Sit up straight! Eat your palm trees! Don't ROAR at your sister! Ignore those tiny furry mousey creatures...they are of no consequenc and won't amount to anything!

  • geese (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:52PM (#28185939) Journal
    Well, that was a quick slashdotting. Hopefully they'll be back up soon.

    Re: modern pseudo-analogues -- based upon the geese I raised as a kid, I never could quite grok the 'head-held-low' posture. Geese only hold their heads low to screw or to attack. It seems very inefficient for a large creature to hold that much weight horizontally away from the body (remember those physics lessons re: levers and distance from the fulcrum?).

    Dinosaurs are awesome, as most five-year-olds will tell you. Armchair paleontology is fun too. And since we slashdotters are so fond of pretending expertise on subjects we know little about, and TFA seems to be slashdotted, I'm looking forward to a very amusing (but maybe not quite so enlightening) discussion.
    • Re:geese (Score:4, Informative)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:16PM (#28186253) Journal

      Re: modern pseudo-analogues -- based upon the geese I raised as a kid, I never could quite grok the 'head-held-low' posture. Geese only hold their heads low to screw or to attack.

      I think it's dangerous to try to compare a two legged winged creature to a four legged creature but from the article:

      They found that reptiles and amphibians held their necks mostly horizontally, while mammals and birds (which are more closely related to dinosaurs and share their upright leg structures) all held their necks vertically.

      Studying the neck movements of living creatures also suggested that sauropods had a greater range of movement than previously thought.

      While scientists had assumed that the dinosaur neck vertebrae overlapped each other by around 50%, that's not true for living creatures like ostriches and giraffes, which can extend their necks till the vertebrae hardly overlap at all.

      And in regards to efficiency of the way they hold their neck:

      It seems very inefficient for a large creature to hold that much weight horizontally away from the body (remember those physics lessons re: levers and distance from the fulcrum?).

      (As the article notes) it's probably a lot harder to have the blood pressure to pump blood all the way up that column to the head. Blood pressure is one of the things they can't explain about their model. The article says, "Estimates of blood pressure also suggested that it would have been very difficult for sauropods to pump their blood up to such a height."

      Dinosaurs are awesome, as most five-year-olds will tell you. Armchair paleontology is fun too. And since we slashdotters are so fond of pretending expertise on subjects we know little about, and TFA seems to be slashdotted, I'm looking forward to a very amusing (but maybe not quite so enlightening) discussion.

      After reading it, the article's not as great as you think. There's plenty of pictures on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] of the animals depicted both ways.

      • by Kozz (7764)

        (As the article notes) it's probably a lot harder to have the blood pressure to pump blood all the way up that column to the head. Blood pressure is one of the things they can't explain about their model. The article says, "Estimates of blood pressure also suggested that it would have been very difficult for sauropods to pump their blood up to such a height."

        I propose the Stegosaurus Corollary: the long-necked dinosaurs had another heart halfway up the length of their neck!

      • Head-held-high seems to work fine for giraffes, though I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the rate of occurrence of heart problems in that species.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Red Flayer (890720)

        I think it's dangerous to try to compare a two legged winged creature to a four legged creature

        Yes, I know it's dangerous, which is why I only make that comparison in a hardened secret laboratory. Last time I tried it, the explosion nearly blew through the 2nd-level blast enclosure.

        Seriously, though, modern birds may be the closes living relatives to dinosaurs. And while I'd very strongly suspect that the long neck of geese evolved independently of the long necks of sauropods, it may be relevant.

        (As the

  • by awb131 (159522) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:56PM (#28185995)

    That's going to kill my karma, but I thought it was funny.

  • Informed speculation (Score:5, Informative)

    by MaXintosh (159753) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @01:56PM (#28186003)
    This is all informed speculation - interesting, and it generates a testable hypothesis, but hardly revealing. There's a hundred different ways to go on the issue until they find impressions of soft tissue. The authors (of the paper, not TFA) hedge their bets heavily by saying that IF sauropods are directly comparable to extant taxa... a bet I wouldn't take myself, since sauropods seemed to form a morphoniche we don't see _appreciably_ filled in extant groups (obvious exception excluded).

    For people who want their science undiluted, here's the paper: http://www.app.pan.pl/article/item/app54-213.html [app.pan.pl]
    Head and neck posture in sauropod dinosaurs inferred from extant animals
    Michael P. Taylor, Mathew J. Wedel, and Darren Naish
    Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54 (2), 2009: 213-220
    • This is all informed speculation

      Aren't all theories?

      since sauropods seemed to form a morphoniche we don't see _appreciably_ filled in extant groups

      Please, stop making up words. We don't seen any morphoniche filled, because there is simply no such thing.

      Thanks for the link, BTW, but the rest of your post is garbage.

  • "...But 'our research [now] suggests that this view of sauropods is simply incorrect, based on everything we know about living animals,' he said."

    Maybe they should have based it on what they know about dead animals, eh? Cuz all them dinos are dead, ain't it. I don't think these "researchers" are mucho bright.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:17PM (#28186263)

    The long necked dinosaurs simply tied their long necks into a knot whenever they needed to raise their heads for feeding and observations.

    They had a symbiotic relationship with the horned dinosaurs who were needed for untieing the knots.

  • by hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:18PM (#28186287) Journal

    Come on people, CLEARLY the large long-necked dinosaurs kept their necks curled back and their heads resting on top of their backs.

  • They all walked around like Gobbles the Turkey?
  • "'For the last decade the reigning paradigm in palaeontology has been that the big sauropod dinosaurs held their necks out straight and their heads down low,' said co-author Matt Wedel"

    What?! Matt Wedel must have missed Jurassic Park... In that movie, the brachiosaurs had their necks high as swans. What is he talking about?! That notion he is babbling about was killed 40 years ago...

    As for the blood pressure, giraffes have the same problem. The water column. They solved it using finely meshed blood vessels.

  • I read an article once that claimed a solution to the issue of the blood pressure with such a long neck and other issues of size with the dinosaurs, and also why they became extinct, and if that werent enough it also explains why the earth *is* only 5000 years old and dating methods are wrong.

    You wanna know what it was?

    The universal constants like the speed of light, gravity, etc are changing over time! For instance, gravity is increasing, so back then the gravity was much less so there was no problem. As

    • That sounds borderline psychotic. Considering scientists are doing experiments for hundreds of years and using those, expecting certain results, shouldn't the results not match what was expected, if those constants are changing? I mean, if the earth *is* only 5000 years old, a couple hundred years would be a significant enough chunk of time to figure it out.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        You're assuming that the constants continue to change at a fixed rate.

        No, I don't buy it either.

        • by greywire (78262)

          You're assuming that the constants continue to change at a fixed rate.

          No, I don't buy it either.

          Though I will say that it seems as though the rate of ignorance in a population definitely is a constant, and that constant definitely is changing over time (unfortunately it seems to be increasing)

        • Actually, no, I wasn't.

          No matter how you run it, the fact that the Greeks were able to measure the circumfrence of the world thousands of years ago, to a high degree of accuracy, considering they used a couple sticks and math, if the constants of things like light were changing, that would mean they would necessarily needed different numbers in the same equations, or different equations with the same numbers, whether it was accelerating, decelerating, or changing at a fixed rate. But since the equations sti

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by greywire (78262)

        It is psychotic. Because they say they don't believe in the science, but then try to come off sounding educated and using science to disprove the science.

        What's really sad is all the people out there who believe them and never do any research themselves to see their pseudo science doesn't jive.

        • Any chance you could point me in the direction of this? I'm actually interested in this now, if only for a good chuckle.

  • I recall reading about a theory where the moon impacted with earth, and earth gained it's core and the moon didn't have enough energy to escape, and ended up trap in orbit. Best I can find is Giant impact hypothesis [wikipedia.org], but I think it was a variation of this.

    Something like that could explain mass extinction, and forcing more change with creating tides, seasons, etc. Not to mention, taking a mostly iron core could change gravity enough here where larger animals have a harder time. And look around at other pl

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dtolman (688781)

      I'm sorry, but reading this completely unrelated tangent, the only thing I could think of was:

      Oh yeah, the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time.
      They didn't have any white onions, because of the war. The only thing you can get was those big yellow ones...

  • because the dinosaurs didn't have a WiiFit!

    ok i'll go back to my corner now.

  • If they spent all their time in the water, they would not have needed a lot of musculature to support their neck and head. Why would a long neck be an evolutionary advantage in the first place? Either it helps for a) reaching food, b) being able to breathe while under water, or c) scoring with the opposite sex. For any of these, a more vertical neck posture would work better.
  • Perhaps it was only the teenage giant sauropod dinosaurs that had bad posture? Of course, these are the ones we would be studying, since they would have wound up in tar pits a lot more often. You know those reckless teens!

    (Note to self: great idea for new cartoon series: teenage giant sauropod dinosaurs. Name each one after famous Impressionist artists. Have running joke about confusing Monet with Manet.)
  • I am the Mike Taylor that is the lead author of this study. As pointed out by MaXintosh, the paper itself is freely available from the open-access journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, and we urge everyone who's interested to read it for themselves: we kept it short and made efforts to keep it comprehensible to intelligent non-specialists. It's at http://www.app.pan.pl/article/item/app54-213.html [app.pan.pl]

    Also, if the article pointed to here is Slashdotted, there is A LOT of other media coverage out there, including a TV interview, seven radio interviews, at least 25 online news sources and at least 14 blogs. Handily, we've linked them all from a page on our own blog, which you can find at http://svpow.wordpress.com/papers-by-sv-powsketeers/taylor-et-al-2009-on-neck-posture/ [wordpress.com]

    And maybe best, that blog -- Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week -- now has a sequence of seven posts explaining the research in more detail: these too are linked from the page I mentioned, and I think many Slashdotters will find them interesting.

    To respond to a couple of specific points that have been raised in the comments here:

    1. TinBromide though we compared only with giraffes, but in fact we compared with LOTS of animals, including birds, crocs, lizards, turtles, mammals and amphibians. The result were compellingly uniform. Similarly, MaXintosh wrote that "the authors (of the paper, not TFA) hedge their bets heavily by saying that IF sauropods are directly comparable to extant taxa". Well, sort of: we did rather nail our colours to the mast when we wrote "Can the habitual posture of extant amniotes be expected to apply to sauropods? Phylogenetic bracketing strongly supports this hypothesis as the neck posture described by Vidal et al. (1986) is found in both Aves and Crocodylia, the nearest extant outgroups of Sauropoda, as well as in the increasingly remote outgroups Squamata, Testudines and Lissamphibia."

    2. eldavojohn asked "Why are we arguing over which position was the default when it's entirely possible that they utilized both positions" and noted that "There's plenty of pictures on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] of the animals depicted both ways." It's true, of course, that animals can and do adopt different postures at different times: we make the point in the paper that sauropods had to be able to get their heads down low in order to drink, and could therefore pass through all intermediate postures. What we're talking about here is HABITUAL posture -- they way they spent their time when not actively doing something different. Geese can reach the ground, but they don't spend their lives that way.

    3. A few people mentioned the problem of pumping blood up a high neck to the brain. We can't say too much about this at the moment as we're working on a paper on this subject and don't want to scoop ourselves. However, we do have good reason to think that the blood-pressure problem is not so severe as it's been depicted in Roger Seymour's work (going back as far as 1976, so we're well aware of it!) Sorry if that sounds evasive: hopefully we'll have a more convincing response for you within a year or so.

    4. Finally, we want to be clear that we don't think our paper ends the debate. If anything, it re-opens it, as horizontal-to-dropping sauropod necks have been orthodox for the last decade or so. There's more work to do (but we're on the case!)

    That's all for now -- hope it helps. If you have any more questions, you're welcome to ask, and we'll do our best to answer. The best place to do is probably over on Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week, as I and my co-authors each check that several times a day. http://svpow.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]

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