Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Like birds, big dinosaurs swallowed food whole

Unlike mammals, but exactly like birds, gigantic plant-eating Dinosaurs tended to swallow their food whole rather than bothering to pre-chew it, according to a team of German researchers.

The new theory could clarify why dinosaurs such as brontosaurus, which weighed up to 100 tons, had long necks and relatively tiny heads.

Until now, it was generally thought that birds swallow their food whole so as to decrease the time they are vulnerable to attack from predators. While that may be partly true, the latest evidence indicates that birds are simply following in the footsteps of their gigantic ancestors, the dinosaurs, who had to devour vast quantities of food as quick as possible just to stay alive, the scientists said.

Elephants and other large modern animals that eat a lot and chew require big heads to accommodate jaw muscles and molars. But a big head would not be necessary for a creature that swallowed down food without chewing.

Long necks would also have aided big dinosaurs get to food without moving from a particular spot — again saving time.

No comments: