Gee, Carole T. .
Mesozoic Plants and Sauropod Herbivory.
Plant-herbivore relationships are relatively easy to discern in living organisms, but are much harder to recognize between organisms in the fossil record, especially if one or both groups have gone extinct. In the case of herbivory in sauropod dinosaurs, the selection or preference of certain plant groups as fodder by the sauropod dinosaurs has been a puzzling and sometimes contentious issue. From a botanical perspective, it seems that the thick-cuticled conifers, toxic cycads, and low-biomass ferns would have offered little in terms of palatable, sustaining fodder to the Mesozoic sauropod dinosaurs, yet we know that giant sauropods existed and must have thrived on these plant groups. Given the experimental results of Hummel et al. published in 2008, which compared digestibility of the nearest living relatives of these plant groups, the Mesozoic flora as potential sauropod food plants can be looked at in a new light. My talk will survey the pre-angiosperm Mesozoic flora in regard to these results, as well as to growth habit and preferred habitat of the living relatives and the accessibility of these plants to sauropods based on the fossil record. Each taxon is then comparatively evaluated as an accessible, dependable, plentiful, renewable, and nutritious food source for sauropods. Based on these criteria, the best food plants would have been Equisetum, Ginkgo, Araucaria and other conifers; the worst would have been cycads and many ferns.
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1 - University of Bonn, Steinmann Institute, Division of Paleontology, Nussallee 8, Bonn, D-53115, Germany
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for BSA Sections
Location: Superior A/Cliff Lodge - Level C
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Time: 10:15 AM