In DepthPaleontology

Sauropods get a new diet and a new look

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Science  18 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6463, pp. 291
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6463.291

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Summary

Sauropod dinosaurs were the biggest creatures ever to have thundered across Earth. Researchers have long wondered how these beasts managed to bulk up to the weight of more than 10 African bull elephants on a spartan diet of prehistoric greens. Many herbivores today grow fat on energy-rich grasses, but these and other nutritious flowering plants didn't become common until near the end of the dinosaurs' reign. Now, researchers think they have glimpsed the answer: a surprisingly nutrient-rich plant still living today that could have been a mainstay of these dinosaurs' diets, and turtlelike beaks that buttressed sauropods' peglike teeth as they relentlessly stripped foliage from plants. Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany presented the findings last week at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Brisbane, Australia.

  • * John Pickrell is a journalist in Sydney, Australia.

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