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.”
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.
“Finding coprolites still within the animal that created it is rare indeed”
Why the coprolite evidence is inconclusive about dinosaurs eating fruit
When we analyze coprolites we find leaves and pine cones, but no evidence of fruit. So the natural assumption is that dinosaurs ate leaves, but not fruit. Perhaps this is a mistake.
You see, people can put pine cones and dry leaves on their dining tables for decades and they don’t break down. But try doing this with a box of tropical fruit in mid-summer and you’ll quickly have wet rotting insect-filled goo. Fruits are much more more energy-rich and will almost universally be eaten by some life form and completely vanish. In fact, fruit and like fruit seeds are like soft tissue, in that both normally vanish without a trace. This is why fossilized fruits are so rare, aside from low-nutrition pine cones and coconut shells.
Now coprolites only preserve what preserves, and fruit does not normally fossilize, so we don’t find fruit in fossil dinosaur coprolites. And why should we expect to find any fossilized fruit within our dinosaur finds, unless we can find a whole bunch of it outside of our dinosaur finds? Go to Google images. You will find endless pages of fossilized leaves, but aside from pine cones and coconuts you will find almost no fossilized dinosaur-age fruit. There will be some casts that have been naturally filled, but almost no proper fossilized (mineral replaced) fruit.
Also, perhaps dinosaur coprolites are rare because they only form under abnormal conditions, like when the dinosaur didn’t have its normal diet of high-energy fruit
The way avocados ripen
Avocados are remarkable in how they can remain fully mature on a tree, and yet not fully ripen 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 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. In other words, 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 digestion 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”.
A large spine covered soursop fruit.
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. These fruits were apparently much larger. After the dinosaurs went extinct, this tree apparently did better when they put the fruit right on the ground to be fought over by smaller animals.
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 and durian smell. 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 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.”
Diplodocus didn’t even have back teeth
This sauropod 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 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.
How sauropods mounted trees
Imagine this as a model for how sauropods mounted to a tree. Only the arms were grasping the tree.
The front half of the sauropod, the reaching end, 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.
The benefits of being most extreme
I once drove the shortest car around. 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 needed to be sacrificed and 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.
Lizards are 5 to 16 times more efficient
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.
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 were ±500x 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.