Today we occasionally see 20,000-calorie Jackfruits, 10,000-calorie durian fruits, and one-ton pumpkins. And dozens of other fruit species occasionally have individual trees producing giant fruits high-up that are many times larger than necessary to spread their seeds.
Now there is no explanation for all this recessive fruit gigantism in today’s world. But it does fit very well with dinosaur gigantism. So here we imagine a world before birds, where most trees bore giant fruits that interested giant sauropods (like brontosaurus). These trees put their fruit up-high, and thus they were only swallowed by the animals capable of reaching them. These were animals so big they had to constantly rove in search of food. And this was the best way at the time for trees to spread their seeds far away. And the plants that did not provide giant costly meals to the sauropods had to rely on ineffective means like the wind and insects for seed spreading. Thus the macro-fruit trees spread into the new habit zones that climate change and other causes were constantly creating. And this is what caused the giant dinosaurs as well as the giant fruit.
Eventually, small animals started climbing up straighter and straighter trees, and jumping between limbs to get at the fruit. Then the fruits developed countermeasures against the “rats” trying to cheat the system. They developed thick and bitter skins, and most importantly, dangling fruit on break-away stems.
There were only two ways for animals to deal with the deadly break-away dangling fruit. One was to glide to the ground safely, and this is what caused the birds to evolve. And the other way was to become so small, so as not to cause the fruit to break away, and also so small, that one durian would feed a number of your kind for all their short lives. This is what caused the mammals to evolve.
Eventually the birds became better and less costly seed spreaders than dinosaurs. Then energy efficiency and natural selection started favoring the trees that catered to the tiny birds with much smaller fruit and seeds. Then over a long period of time, many fruiting plants started catering to bird sized appetites instead of the massive dinosaurs and their costly appetites. Then with less and less fruits to eat, there were fewer and fewer giant dinosaurs, until a big climate shock where all the remaining dinosaurs went extinct.
Again, fruits like this durian to the left were once in the treetops, where only the biggest, and slowest digesting long-necked dinosaurs could reach. And before birds evolved, catering to the biggest dinosaurs was the only way for trees to spread their seeds far away.
Now, it is widely accepted that plants give animals a snack of fruit in order to spread their seeds. But what about the 1-ton pumpkins that people occasionally grow? What about 40-kilo jackfruits with over 20,000-calories of food value? And what about 8-kilo durian fruits with over 10,000 calories? Fruits this size may be on the rare side, but each year, many individual plants produce fruit this size. And these giant fruits are much more than a snack for any animal living today. And dozens of plant species occasionally produce giant individual fruits.
Throwbacks, not mutants
These giant fruits are not mutants but throwbacks. They are the plant genomes randomly trying an approach that worked for about 140-million years. And taken together, the widespread existence of these super-costly macro-fruits in so many plant species tell us about a time when macro-fruits were normal.
Seed spreading is key to animal evolution
1) Seed-spreading pulled life from the water by feeding it
Without land animals, how did plant spread their seeds? Wind and insects obviously did not get very far. Once the first amphibians began passing the seeds of land plants, the arms race of the plants (to spread their seeds farthest) led them to give all they could to their most beneficial seed spreading animal symbiots. Thus it is the benefit of terrestrial seed spreading that caused the plants to “draw” the animals out of the seas by nourishing them.
2) Seed-spreading caused dinosaurs to be big
3) Seed-spreading caused tall trees with edible fruit
Lets go back to before birds and bird-based seed-spreading evolved. At this time, if plants wanted animals to spread their seeds, they had to give away a fruit-snack just like today. But at that time, the seeds swallowed by the biggest and highest-reaching animals tended to be spread further, giving that tree species an important advantage over seeds swallowed by smaller creatures that did not need to constantly roam in search of food. So before the evolution of birds as effective seed spreaders, survival favored trees with giant, nutritious fruits high up, along with their giant animal symbiots capable of reaching this fruit. And this is the evolutionary force that both caused dinosaur gigantism, as well as tall trees.
4) Seed-spreading caused birds
5) Seed-spreading ended the giant dinosaurs
Once birds evolved, plants had a more efficient means of spreading their seeds, and the ones that continued to provided macro-fruit for dinosaurs were wasting huge amounts of energy on seed spreading. These were at a huge disadvantage and eventually either adapted or died out.
Prosauropods and gymnosperms
The giant fruit, high up on trees, co-evolved with the giant reptiles. In fact, the rise of the sauropods, including the earlier prosauropods came along with the rise of the gymnosperms, the seed and fruit bearing plants. In other words, as the seed-bearing and fruit-bearing plants rose in the plant kingdom, sauropods rose in the animal kingdom to spread them. This is because both were evolving as symbiots.
Here is a durian tree heavy with fruit for long extinct sauropod symbiots. Here is maybe 60,000 or 100,000 calories of nutrition on half a semi-mature durian tree. What else but dinosaurs could have been eating this spine covered, thick rind fruit high up on a tree?
If these papaya plants mature, the massive nutrition of their fruit might be over 10 meters up. What sort of giant animals did this plant evolve this crazy over-supply of nutrition to feed?
Durian is as caloric as meat
Durian has about 1,470 calories per kilo. This is roughly the same caloric content as raw beef tenderloin (1,480), and pork tenderloin (1,430), and whole turkey (1,410). And it is much more than raw tuna (1,050), raw skinless chicken breast (1,140), and bananas (950). So an 8-kilo Montong durian, might have 10,000 calories, about the same caloric content as a 8-kilo turkey. Now mature durian trees will each have dozens of these fruits hanging from them. And a grove of durian trees will have thousands of durian fruits. Also, if dinosaurs were relying on macro-fruit for most of their calorie intake, they still might be eating lots of leaves.
Seed spreading is key to tree survival
For trees in a forest, the first mover advantage has always been quite important. The first tree to spread its seeds gave a big advantage to its offspring. They got nearly all the light, and they left little light for later competitors. So the first mover (or seed spreader) generally won the race. Also having several fist-sized durian seeds spread in a large piles of dinosaur excrement fertilizer surely must have helped a great deal.
This was the reward for trees species that could please and sustain their giant animal symbiots. These species prospered over the other species during the era of dinosaur gigantism. And again, this was before the advent of birds, so at this time, getting eaten by a macro-saur was the best way to for trees to spread their seeds.
Today most macro-fruits grow close to the ground, but during the time of the giant sauropods, they grew quite far above the ground. We can tell this by measuring the reach of the biggest seed-spreading sauropod symbiots. We can also tell this by graphing the maximum fruit growth ceiling for individual trees of the various species. Also, the above drawing is in error in two important ways. First, all existing reptiles seem to prefer meat, or insects, or fruit to leaves. And the above reptile has a mouthful of leaves. And Secondly, the position of the sauropods should be shown in one of the two positions below if he is feeding.
To start the sauropod is reared up almost vertically on his hind legs and mounted to a tree. This is to maximize its reach. The thumb claws on its front limbs are digging into the soft bark of the tree and stabilizing the tall and unstable reptile. Also, the reptile’s neck might even spiral the trunk of the tree a bit, for added stability. Later, if the dinosaur grows full, or if there is no need to reach, he sits down and feeds on the lower branches.
The twistable thumb claw
At first, one group of reptiles specialized in eating the fruit of the tallest trees. Early on, these developed the “twistable thumb claw” (like the prosauropod Plateosaurus). This helped the dinosaur stand up on its hind legs and grasp a tree for support, and stability. Then after a while, there was this co-evolution feedback-loop where the trees got taller and the animals with thumb claws (sauropods) became bigger and developed longer necks. This is because the biggest animals spread their seeds furthest. It is also because long necks were the most efficient way to reach the fruit. And this fruit-bait for seed spreading was the driving force of an entire macro ecosystem that was primarily based on size and high-reach, and these characteristics above all others.
Also, in sauropod trackways, the thumb claw is not seen. It is widely held that sauropods held their thumbs up when they walked. So it is easy to imagine that the thumb claw was critically important to rearing up, getting the macro-fruit, and surviving. And to prevent damage, the thumb claw was held up when the sauropods lumbered between fruit trees. And just as the thumb claw could be held up it probably also could be lowered, or pressed down into a trees soft bark.
Above we see a right-hand sauropod thumb claw. This allowed the tall and unstable reared-up dinosaur to stabilize itself by pushing its thumb claws into the bark of the tree that it was feeding on. The positioning is like when you grasp someone by the head with both hands, and have your four fingers behind their head, and your thumbs above their ears. This put the cut of the thumb claw at exactly parallel to the grain of the wood in the tree. In this position the claws would go in deepest and be most effective in stabilizing the tall and unstable sauropod.
Here we see thousands of calories of dates high up on a tree. Why is this plant squandering all this energy? Unless we accept that the plant evolved all this costly fruit to feed giant seed spreading symbiots, the giant amounts of fruit nutrition make no sense.
Myth: The dinosaurs died out all at once
In truth, from the start of the Jurassic erea, the macro-fruit trees suffered from constant attacks on their fruit bribes from legions of miniature cheating animals. Thus the macro-species (both animal and plant) started going extinct at an accelerating rate starting maybe 90-million years ago. Then, all of a sudden, 66- million years ago, all the remaining cold-blooded and giant animals went extinct.
And there is a worldwide sedimentary soil layer that is iridium rich, right at this point in the sedimentary record. And because meteors are iridium-rich, many people take this layer to mean that a meteor hit the earth 66-million years ago. However, meteors are not made out of iridium. Iridium traces are only slightly higher than on the surface of our planet. So having a detectable worldwide iridium anomaly layer implies quite an unbelievably large meteor. On the other hand, our own planet’s interior is also iridium rich. So the iridium might have been caused by one or more volcanos instead.
Digression: The first law of group evolution
The adaptation speed of an evolutionary network increases as an exponent of its size. It is basically another application of the first grand unifying principal (otherwise known as Metcalf’s law). Briefly stated, it is that: “The value/ power/ speed/ adaptability of a network increases as an exponent of its size.” So every increase in a life form’s breeding population (the population of the species) will produce an exponential increase in the all-critical speed at which adaptation and evolution occurs for that species.
In other words, all life forms are not just in a battle to survive as individuals competing with other individuals of their own kind — But their species is also in a battle to survive against other species, and here the population of the species, the number of individuals in the evolutionary network determines the speed at which beneficial mutations occur. That in turn determines speed of adaptation, and that speed of adaptation in turn helps assure the survival of that species over other competing species.
Trees are no different from other life forms here. They are also in a battle to get the biggest breeding populations. Those species that were not able to acquire new territory tended to evolve slower and die out. Thus the tree species that could gain larger breeding populations tended to survive. And here, everything was about spreading seeds far. And before the advent of birds, the best way to do that was to get a huge slow-digesting sauropod like brontosaurus to eat your seeds.
And the macro-fruit trees didn’t need any small animals climbing up and cheating the system, eating their precious fruit bribes and doing nothing to help spread their seeds. So evolution favored the plants that put their fruit up high, really high up, where only the biggest animals could reach. And evolution also favored the plants that had fruit with thick rinds, thorns and slow digesting fruit, as well as other counter-measures . And here the seed spreader’s size and slow metabolism was critical, because it produced an exponential increase in value to the plant (the first principal of network evolution again).
So before birds, the plants needed to get tall, so that they could put their big, nutritious fruits high up (why Earth evolved to have super tall trees). This was so only the biggest eternally roving animals would eat their seeds and spread them as far as possible. And at the same time, the main symbiots of these tall trees also evolved towards size and high reach. And in this pre-bird ecosystem, high reach mattered above all else. Never mind speed, or intelligence, or metabolism. During the age of dinosaurs, animals needed to get tall to reach the big fruits, to get energy to survive and reproduce. And animals also needed to get big to support the lengthy digestive tracks capable of breaking-down the fructose-rich fruits that had evolved to favor slow-digesting animals.
However, once the birds became better seed spreaders than the dinosaurs, there was no need for the plant to invest energy in producing macro-fruit. And once there was not much macro-fruit, there was little need for the animal to invest energy in the growing huge. So over millions of years one plant species after another stopped producing macro-fruit, and started producing today’s bird-sized fruits.
How gliding and expendable individuals
short-circuited dinosaur gigantism
Once the gliders (proto-birds) evolved to a point, the rules of the game changed. Nature (or more precisely evolutionary adaptation speed) favored larger populations of smaller flyers over smaller populations of larger flyers. And on the plant side of the symbiosis, the costly system based on hugely “expensive” durian-scale bribes began to collapse under its own extreme “cost”, and in species after species, trees started producing smaller fruits to feed the smaller flyers.
In other words, the trees that produced more bird-sized or rat-sized fruit leapt ahead of the trees that wasted huge amounts of energy producing 10,000 calorie durians. Then over time, the nature of our planet’s forests changed. And eventually, over millions of years, the planet’s trees all mostly stopped giving huge amounts of energy to macro-creatures, and macroism died out in favor of smaller seeds, smaller fruits and flight and high metabolism. And today we have to consider thousands of individuals to find one macro-fruit bearing tree.
Giant mutant fruit
It is worth repeating, that the giant “mutant” fruits we occasionally see today — the 700-kilo pumpkins and 4-foot-long papayas — are not mutants at all, but throwbacks. They are legacy dinosaur fruit varieties that many of plant genomes randomly try again from time to time. In some cases, the throw-back mutant is cultivated by man, but mostly all the huge dinosaur-sized fruits have now evolved to be today’s “normal sized” or bird size for today’s flight-enabled ecosystems.
Here some giant “throwback” passion fruit about 20x “normal” volume. A great many fruiting plants (especially tropical plants) occasionally produce much larger fruits of the old dinosaur size.
Dinosaurs a concise natural history, Fastovsky Ch.8
“In all sauropodo-morphs, the gut must have been capacious… Sauropods likely had an exceptionally large fermentation chamber (or chambers) that would have housed endo-symbiots; that is, bacterial that lived within the gut of the dinosaur. The endo-symbiots would have chemically broken down the cell walls of the plant food, thereby liberating whatever nutrition was to be had. Considering the size of the abdominal cavity in sauropodo-morphs, these animals probably fed on foliage with high fiber content. Perhaps they also had low rates of passage of food through the gut in order to ensure a high level of nutrient extraction from such low-quality food. We can only conclude that these huge animals, with their comparatively small mouths, must have been constant feeders to acquire enough nutrition to maintain themselves. The digestive tract of a sauropod had to have been a non-stop, if low-speed conveyor belt.”
In some places they don’t even allow un-opened durians in taxis and on transit due to their extremely strong smell. And Jackfruits, mangos, and passion fruits are also quite fragrant. And we humans have a terribly weak sense of smell, and we can easily smell an open durian 100 meters away. So it is not hard to imagine that a stand of durian trees might have called its animal symbiots from perhaps a kilometer or two away. And it is not hard to imagine that the giant lumbering sauropods were pausing every couple hours to relieve themselves. After all, nature would have favored the individuals that would better spread the seeds that would grow the trees that would produce the food that their offspring would live off of.
Fructovor reptiles today
How do fructivor reptiles eat peas, edamame, lima beans, petai, carob, or small cocoa pods that are suspended from above? Do they ever nibble the seeds out of their casings? And if we line up durian, avocado, carob, cocoa fruit, and other suspected macro-fruit, what does each species eat first? And which macro-fruits will carnivorous animals eat?
A 50-ton dinosaur, really?
The largest dinosaur supposedly had a mass of 50-tons. This is about the weight of 35 African forest elephants, or 17 African bush elephants. And we now know that dinosaur bones were largely full of air, like bird bones. And the creature evolved to have super long necks, the longest (and hence lightest-weight) necks possible. I bet that the biggest dinosaurs was quite tall and thin, especially the front half.
How do you feed a 50-ton dinosaur on leaves?
This is about the weight of 35 African forest elephants, which also eat a good amount of fruit. How do you get that volume of leaves through the relatively small mouths that sauropods have?
Dinosaurs a concise natural history, Fastovsky Ch.8
“Diplodocus and other long-necked sauropods may have gained access to foliage [macro-fruit] at high levels in the trees by adopting a tripodal posture, rearing up on their hind limbs and using their tails as a ‘third leg’ “
Dinosaurs a concise natural history, Fastovsky, Ch.8
“The ‘extremely long neck’ turns out to have been made up of a complex system of girders and air pockets that maximized lightness and strength. Distinctive in sauropods were the Y-shaped neural arches on the vertebrae. These held the nuchal ligament, an elastic rope of connective tissue that ran down the back of the animal and supported the head and neck, so that it was not held up exclusively by muscles… The bones [of the lower part of the body] are composed of denser material than that found in the upper parts of the skeleton, an adaptation locating the weight and strength of the skeletons where it was most needed.”
More upright and then less upright
Dinosaurs probably only stood completely upright at first, and when their belly was empty. Later, when their belly was full, and they had eaten all the highest fruit, they probably rested their belly on the ground. Nature would have favored this behavior over the opposite.
Long dinosaur necks
Having a super long sauropod neck was a much more efficient way of reaching the macro-fruit. It was certainly more efficient than having, bearing and moving a giant body. Hence the sauropods evolved the longest necks possible.
Dinosaur gigantism was a network effect
Dinosaur-era gigantism was caused by a network effect. You see, before birds, bigger was always better because bigger means greater seed spreading. Then once birds became widespread, the network effect was short-circuited, and plants received no benefit for providing huge meals for dinosaurs, so the fruit mostly all got smaller and more bird sized — as opposed to giant dinosaur sized.
Large citrus (pomelo)
Slow digesting reptiles
Many reptiles will by their own choice go weeks between feeding. And reptiles, with their super slow metabolisms do frequently go months between feeding. And this is a big aspect of what reptiles are all about. They can go a very long time between eating because they waste no energy in either heating, or keeping their metabolism running fast. They are sort of like the hybrid cars that waste no gas idling the engine.
The way avocados ripen
Avocados are remarkable in how they can remain fully mature on a tree, and yet not fully ripe for up to 8- months. They can be removed from the tree at any time during this 8-month “storage period”, and then only some 4 to 7 days later do they fully ripen. So here we see what is an important aspect of the digestive metabolism of seed-spreading dinosaur symbiot animals. They digested their belly full of avocados over at least a week. Thus the avocado plant discriminates against animals that would digest its seeds in less than a week. Avocados evolved to cater to animals with super-slow metabolisms eating. Now the question is: Are there varieties of avocado that ripen particularly slowly? What is the slowest ripening and digesting macro-fruit that anyone can find? This is important because it tells us how slow the digestive conveyor-belt of the sauropods were.
Dinosaurs passed avocado pits
Consider the pit of the Grapefruit-sized Reed avocados, but bigger. Here we see a plant with a great strategy for making sure that only the biggest dinosaurs ate its fruit, the “big pit strategy”.
The extremes of each fruit
Never mind how creamy or delicious the individual avocados are, what is the biggest avocados anyone can find? And just as important, how big do the gut- clogging seeds get?
Ecosystems and economies should be named after their vehicle
With dinosaurs, the vehicle was giant fruit, or macro-fruitss. So let’s call the giant dinosaur ecosystem the MACROFRUIT ECOSYSTEM.
A large spine covered soursop fruit.
The 3 laws of the dinosaur ecosystem: big, big and big
The entire dinosaur (macro-fruit) eco-system was about getting big at the expense of everything else. On the plant side, it was about evolving super nutritious, super delicious fruits as high as possible in the air, so only the biggest animals could eat them. And on the animal side of the coin it was about being the animal that could reach the super nutritious fruit in the tree-tops.
1) This is why the Sauropods (like Brontosaurus) evolved their incredibly long necks.
2) This is why Sauropods have tiny heads at the end of their ultra-long necks.
3) This is what cause the Sauropods to evolve part of their brain in their hips. In stegosaurus (which is not a sauropod), 97% of its brain tissue was located where the spinal cord met with the rear legs.
4) This is why the biggest dinosaurs had bird-like skeletal pneumaticity, which is the presence of air-spaces within the bones.
5) This is why skeletal pneumaticity was significantly greater at the front of the sauropod.
6) This is why the front of the sauropods were bird light, while the tail half was much heavier.
Harvesting immature green jackfruit for cooking
Jackfruit trees sometimes give hundreds of thousands of calories of nutrition to their now extinct seed spreading symbiots.
The features of macro-fruit
1) They are big, delicious and nutritious.
2) They are particularly fragrant to call animals to eat them. For example, durian, jackfruit, noni-fruit, and mango
3) They tend to grow far above the ground away from small opportunistic creatures.
4) They tend to have thick skins with spines to discourage small opportunistic creatures from nibbling. For example durians, chestnuts, and soursop.
5) They dangle and have a break-away stem with often multiple break points. This is to booby trap the fruit against mid-sized opportunistic animals.
6) They often have giant indigestible seeds, like avocados, mangos and durians. 7) They often have impenetrable seed casings like with brazil nuts, carob, durians, jackfruit, and walnuts.
8) They often have bitter or unappetizing seed casings like with avocados, bananas, mangosteens, citrus and apples.
9) They often have long skinny shapes that prevent animals from climbing down onto the fruit. For example, carob, tamarind, petai, sea beans, cassia grandis, peas, honeylocust, Goldmore tree, delonix regia, Chinese long beans, and kigelia africana (giant sausage tree)
10) The seed casings have sharp-edged, or impenetrable inner seed casings like peaches and apricots.
11) They have poisonous seeds inside a hard casing. For example, apricots and almonds, and plums. This is to discriminate against animal symbiots that digest their seeds
12) They tend to have fibers around the seed to amalgamate it with the fecal fertilizer. For example, mangos and durians
13) They all generally have no know animal to drive this hugely costly macro- evolution — in today’s world.
A large chestnut covered in spines. These spines would not affect sauropod nibbling because their teeth were long. The spines would however, greatly discourage small animals from getting into the macro-fruit and cheating the system. Also, the contents of the spine covered macro-fruit generally pop-out when “nibbled” in a sauropod-mimicking vise. The macro-fruits that are not covered in spines are generally of the swallow-me-whole type. These (like jackfruit) generally can’t be nibbled out and must instead be swallowed whole.
Rollinia fruit covered in spines. Note how the stem has two break-away points. Also the spines look shriveled and atrophied. Also note the way the fruit is bright mango or banana yellow. It wants to be eaten, but only by the animals that can manage dealing with its spines and break away stem.
Graviola fruit covered in atrophied spines. Note the oversized break-away stem. It means that this fruit was once bigger and probably had a longer and more dangling stem.
Marang fruit covered in “spines”. Note how the stem is particularly oversized
Note the huge jackfruit stems. After the dinosaurs went extinct, the indivduals apparently did better when they put the fruit right on the ground.
Soncoya fruit covered in spines. Note how the spines are angled against small creatures jumping down onto the fruit, but in favor of sauropods reaching from below. This tree has evolved a more realistically sized stem for it’s now smaller fruit.
Dulcis durians are spinier than normal. They remind us of the tiny seed-pods That we see in so many trees, seed pods like chestnut, sycamore, sweet gum, caesalpinia bonduc, Allamanda schottii, Bixa orellana (lipstick tree), Osage-orange, and some oaks. Also, note the red color. This fruit wants to be seen and eaten.
A throwback durian tree heavy with huge amounts of bait for sauropod seed spreaders that went extinct long ago.
Maybe Lychee fruit was once super spiny and the size of a pomelo. There is no reason to expect different fruits to shrink by the same amount. Some probably shrank more than others.
Here we see a spiny form of rambutan. Maybe rambutan fruit was once super spiny and the size of a pomelo. It is notable that the fruit covered in spines generally squirts out when pressed or “nibbled” on
Maybe longan fruit was once super spiny and the size of a pomelo.
A spiny gac fruit from Vietnam
Here is a jackfruit tree that is part way to producing fruit as small and numerous as rambutans
A spiny watermelon.
Cocoa (chocolate) pods have a soft fruit and a tough and particularly thick shell. It is easy to imagine that this image shows how the fruit existed before the first macro-fruit cheating started. Then as the sauropod necks became longer, the individuals with bigger fruit higher up on the tree tended to thrive, while the others did not. Then finally when the dinosaurs all died out, the fruit migrated back down and became its pre-sauropod size once again.
Brazil nuts are in one hard casing and then another. This is another way of saying please eat me if you are a big animal, but don’t eat me if you are a small animal.
Creamy cupassu fruit, in a thick hard to penetrate shell
(giant sausage tree fruit)
Elephant reaching to eating kigelia africana fruit, dinosaur style
Elephants prefer fruit
Elephants eat leaves, but they will come over if you have fruit.And they will mash one coconut after another, to get a shot-glass-full of the sweet coconut water.Elephants, like horses definitely prefer fruits and sweets.
“Tooth form and especially tooth wear indicate that sauropods nipped and stripped foliage [fruit], unceremoniously delivering a succulent bolus to the gullet, largely un-chewed.”
Some sauropods didn’t even have teeth
They would bite or nibble on the macro-fruit’s rind or shell, popping the contents out, like we do with edamame, or a stepped-on banana. Then they would swallow it’s contents whole. Also, sauropods had absurdly tiny and delicate and lightweight skulls, skulls so lightweight, they didn’t even really support jaw muscles for chewing. They only existed to nibble and pop the fruit out of its rind or shell and swallow it. In fact, the needs of the seed spreading trees obviously did not favor chewing in their ideal symbiots.
Sauropods nibbled the soy beans from their edamame
Durians are famously spiny and armored. However, the bottom of a durian can normally be pulled open with less than 20 kilos of pulling force. And when a durian is truly ripe, less than 5-kilos of pulling force is normally needed to open the fruit. (Tip: get spine-proof gloves and slice-off the bottom inch off a durian to see the lines where the pod opens, start pulling the segments apart at this end, as the connection is weakest here). So if a sauropod was nibbling at the top of a durian with say 50-kg of biting force, the soft fruit (about as soft as banana) would pop-out the other end, like an edamame bean, or a pea. This explains why sauropod teeth were so front-ended and underdeveloped for leaf eating. It is because they were actually used to nibble fruit out of pods, and not chewing anything.
Here we consider how the “pencil” teeth of diplodocus seem insufficient for the purpose of even stripping leaves from their branches. In fact, these look like they might have broken off after a couple years stripping leaves. Indeed the teeth of diplodocus seem as if they could only have be used for nothing more than nibbling macro-fruit from it’s pods, or in pulling ripe fruit from its break-away stems.
The front half of the sauropod had great pressure to be as long and light as possible. This while the back half of the animal had no pressure to be long or light. It just had to be an efficient support and balancing mechanism (and a giant gut) for the neck part.
How sauropods mounted trees
This monitor lizard is probably not to far from how Sauropods reared up to get at the macro-fruit in a tree. As the belly got full, the rear legs would bend and the belly would rest on the ground. In other words, the sauropods instinctively reached as high as possible at first and then, as they got full, they fed on the lower branches.
The rear foot prints are 2.5 to 6 times the area of the front footprints. We also see this big heavy tail used for energy storage, a tail dragged behind the rear legs, a tail that always rested on the ground except when the creature lumbered to the next tree to feed. So perhaps 65% to 80% of the sauropods by weight, rested on the ground when the sauropods mount up to a tree to reach its macro-fruit. So it probably was not difficult for a sauropod to rear up, or lever-up onto a tree. And when a sauropod was using his thumb claws to grasp a tree, the tree probably wasn’t supporting much of the sauropod’s weight, but merely stabilizing around 1/4 of the creature’s total weight. Also, sauropods may have curled their necks and rested their heads atop their bodies when they slept. Did they also walk around this way?
The thickness of sauropod bones means little
The Sauropod bones didn’t simply grow air sacks, they also grew in thickness. And inside the bones, this was sponge was probably lighter than bird wing bones today. Size and drag were not a problem after all. So the neck part of a sauropod was not heavy with bones. And the neck musculature was not at all like that of say a cattle hindquarters with a similarly ‘beefy’ bone. The sauropod, at least above the waist, was probably skin and air-filled bones above the waist. Or perhaps more accurately, they were like a big-boned flamingo above the waste. In both cases (flamingo and sauropod) there was extreme evolutionary pressure for the neck to be as long and light as possible. Although in a dinosaur, the bones could be super thick and light weight.
Brontosaurus had to have this super thin flamingo neck, and a relatively light front-half. Then in back there was this crocodile-like rear-half, and a monster tail for stability and food storage. This animal found a spot and arched its back like the monitor lizard above. Then he leaned against, and grabbed the tree using its thumb hooks to grapple on. And Brontosaurus may have even partly wrapped his snake-like neck around the tree trunk for added stability and ease of neck support. Here is probably why we find so many macro-fruits that are frequently attached to the main stem of a tree.
Wiry not muscular
The whole ideas of muscular Sauropods is wrong, at least in the front half of the creature. Sauropods were big boned, but they were big hollow bones: lightweight like bird bones. In fact, this skeletal pneumaticity is probably what gave rise to the light-weight bones of the birds.
Tendon tube necks
The sauropod necks were these giant hollow throats for swallowing giant macro- fruits (like jackfruits) whole. And they were as muscle free as the fingers I use to type these words. The necks were skin and bones and tendons. like the neck on a flamingo, only without the heavy brain and beak, and giant eyes. Everything was about evolving to reach the highest fruit.
The benefits of being most extreme
In the 1990s I drove a Ford Festiva, which was just about the shortest car around at the time. I did this because on every block, there was a parking space for me that nobody else could fit into. An analogous thing happened with the Sauropods. The ones with the longest necks could normally always find food.
Only the sauropods mattered to the macro-fruit trees
These were the macro-creatures specialized for standing on the ground and reaching the macro-fruit. These were the true symbiot of the macro-fruit trees. And all the other land-based dinosaurs were parasites in this eco-system, as far as the needs of the macro-fuit trees were concerned.
Reaching high was job #1 for the sauropods
Sauropods were long necked at the expense of just about everything else that could be sacrificed in their anatomy.
Size was all that mattered for the sauropods and their predators
The dinosaur breeding network did not encourage high metabolism because it encouraged size and high reach above all else including a fast metabolism. Only the biggest creatures could reach the bounty of the macro-fruit — or access and digest the waste that fell to the ground, or prey on them the creatures eating the macro-fruit. Thus, except in predators, speed and high metabolism were sacrificed in the interest of size. And even in predators, size was important.
Clocked like a tortoise
Think about how crocodiles lay around all day on the banks of a river or lurk without moving under the water. Today, without any need to get big, cold blooded reptiles are mostly about saving energy. Now certainly the huge and slow dinosaurs had adrenalin speed (by the day’s turtle-slow standards), but mostly they were as slow as tortoises. Basically, everything was sacrificed in the interest of size, and the entire macro-fruit eco- system was about getting big over just about everything else, including speed.
It is easy to see how fast dinosaurs moved if we watch the Galapagos tortoise enclosure at the San Diego Zoo. Start filming maybe 30 minutes before feeding time. Then look at how everything speeds up when the keeper arrives, and all the mini-dinosaurs make a “tortoise dash” (at maybe 2-kph) for the food. This is probably how fast sauropods moved when they were hustling for food, and running away from predators.
Fast dinosaur nonsense
In the Jurassic Park films we see dinosaur predators moving at mammal speeds and chasing people for long periods of time. But we have no reason to think that dinosaurs had the high-speed endurance as mammals today. Except for short bursts of speed, pretty much all cold-blooded energy-conserving reptilians today are super slow by mammalian standards.
And another thing — today we mostly have the small high metabolism “hummingbird” or “mongoose” clocked reptiles that survived. The big slow reptiles mostly all died out. Think of how fast a small lizard is, and compare it to a big mature alligator in a burst of speed. Then go two steps further down the scale continuum and imagine a brontosaurus. This creature probably moved no faster than a tortoise, except apparently, its tail which whipped to high speeds parabolically.
Slower than a crocodile walking
Look at the speed of a crocodile walking. Look at how he lays around for most of the time. Then he gets up on his legs and his body arcs from side to side as he walks. This sort of serpent (or serpedal) movement is how we should imagine giant sauropods lumbered between giant fruit trees.
Think about how easy it is to tire out a lizard you are chasing around. Think about how quickly they become out of breath. Slow reptile metabolisms can’t handle too much high-metabolism activity at once. So while reptile metabolisms don’t need as much food, they don’t have the speed or stamina that a warm blooded metabolism has.
T-rex chasing a sauropod
We might imagine this as happening at the speed of an alligator charging out of the water at a Galapagos tortoise.
Much macro-fruit fell to the ground
Much macro-fruit must have simply ripened and fallen to the ground without any sauropods to eat it. And much macro-fruit must have fallen from the mouths of the sauropods. This was probably not searched for. In fact, for the propagation of little sauropods, it must have been quite beneficial to drop lots of macro-fruit. And if there were not enough little sauropods, then some other creatures like stegosaurus and triceratops no doubt benefited from following the sauropods and eating the macro-fruit.
Heavy and deadly sauropod tails
Most other large species probably did not dare go near the sauropods and their giant heavy-boned whip tails. And remember, the front half of all macro-saur bodies were bird boned. And the Sauropod’s were over four times the size of their predators. So their heavy-boned tails must have broken many bones on the front half of their predators — even if they were not moving very fast.
Adult sauropods are are around 500 times larger than babies
The baby sauropods were not only easy prey, but more importantly, they could not reach the tree-top fruit. Thus the sauropods must have lived with their young, young that fed on the fruit the older generations dropped.
Dinosaurs a concise natural history, Fastovsky Ch.8
“the vast sauropod footprint assemblages, all speak loudly to the existence of gregariousness of sauropods, including Shunosaurus, Diplodocus, and Camarasaurus. Sauropods living in large groups must have been capable of wreaking severe damage on local vegetation, either by stripping away all the foliage they could reach or by trampling into the ground all of the shrubs, brush and trees that might have got in the way. So… herds of sauropods likely depleted their food sources and had to move on for more.”
The way elephants destroy a forest
It is easy to imagine the sauropods being rather destructive to the forest, like elephants today. This sort of situation arises out of a synergy between the macro-fruit feeders and the macro-fruit trees giving away fruit. By destroying the forest, the fructivors give an increased advantages their tree symbiots, and hence themselves.
Other dinosaurs followed the sauropods around
Other smaller dinosaurs must have been eating both the waste fruit and the waste left by the Sauropods.
Trees can grow taller than sauropods could reach
At the extreme end of this, the limiting factor is fundamentally the weight of the hind half of the sauropod. And the limiting factor there was how much the creature could heft from here to there. So it was probably a real big effort for the biggest sauropod to get from tree to tree, and each step was an effort.
The sauropods were so big they had to constantly migrate in search of fruit. Although it was a tortoise slow migration at perhaps 2 miles per hour with many stop for resting (like with tortoise racing)
Cherimoyas (at right), papayas, jackfruits, mangos, apples, pumpkins, citrus, avocados, and indeed most of the surviving macro-fruit species change color and become red, orange, yellow or purple when they become ripe. And chameleons are beautifully colored. Clearly dinosaurs were not color blind.