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Dinosaur Posture Still Wrong, Says Study

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the sit-up-straight dept.

Science 226

An anonymous reader sends along a piece in Cosmos about new dissension to the current prevailing wisdom on dinosaur posture. The researchers admit that blood pressure presents an unresolved obstacle to their model of dinosaur heads held high. "The current depiction of the way giant sauropod dinosaurs held their necks is probably wrong, says a new study. 'For the last decade the reigning paradigm in palaeontology has been that the big sauropod dinosaurs held their necks out straight and their heads down low,' said co-author Matt Wedel, who researches biomechanics at the Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. But 'our research [now] suggests that this view of sauropods is simply incorrect, based on everything we know about living animals,' he said." The researchers worried that some other team might beat them to publication, so obvious did they consider their methodology of looking at living animals to gain insight into the biomechanics of extinct ones.

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AW... (5, Funny)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185823)

Guess this means there was no Stuckupasaurus? You know, the snooty dinosaur who thought it was better than all the others and walked around holding its head high and looking down its nose at the others? ...ok, wow, THAT was lame.

I apologize.

I'm horny (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28185877)

My boyfriend isn't home. Will you shove my iPhone up my butt for me?

Re:I'm horny (2, Funny)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185909)

...brings a whole new meaning to "multi-touch"... and, no.

Re:I'm horny (5, Funny)

mrdoogee (1179081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186447)

There's an app for that!

Re:I'm horny (1)

greyline (1052440) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186929)

You're really a dude, admit it.

Re:I'm horny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186993)

You're really a... i fucked your dead great grandmother!

TFA Is slashdotted (4, Informative)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185837)

So they looked at a giraffe and decided that the giraffe may be a suitable long-necked living animal? Unfortunately TFS only says that the horizontal configuration is incorrect, and I can't get to the article to see how they posit that long-necked animals posture themselves. So, I'm suggesting that the long neck is held vertically as a way of gaining extra height for food reach, reaching the ground, and longer range vision without the increased bulk of longer legs, taller body, etc.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (3, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185985)

The with the vertical posture is blood pressure and the energy required to move blood to the head. Supposedly, just moving blood up the neck to the head would require have the dinosaurs energy and a heart 15 times bigger (as a ratio of body mass) than the hearts of other large animals.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (2, Interesting)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186103)

Since I couldn't get to the article (still can't), I was extrapolating the posture of living long necked animals. Off hand, I can't think of any long necked animals that don't keep it in a vertical configuration, it seems like it'd be a waste to have a long neck without the defensive/food advantages that go along with it. It'd be like bats evolving wings, but not having the pectoral muscles to flap them enough to fly.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (5, Insightful)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186299)

But having a 15 ft long neck which is held horizontal means you can browse a 30ft wide path without moving (or perhaps while moving slowly in one direction), the energy saving for being able to browse a large swath of ground without moving must be large when you weight a few tonnes.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28187233)

But having a 15 ft long neck which is held horizontal means you can browse a 30ft wide path without moving (or perhaps while moving slowly in one direction), the energy saving for being able to browse a large swath of ground without moving must be large when you weight a few tonnes.

Ever held your arm out straight and put a large book on your palm & tried to keep from moving? The idea that solving for the blood pressure problem by having horizontal necks makes more sense than solving for the muscle fatigue problem by aligning the neck vertically is ludicrous.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (2, Informative)

Useful Wheat (1488675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186417)

You need a larger imagination. You have successfully described flying squirrels. I think they fit the category nicely for bats with wings that cannot fly. Go over to wikipedia and look at them for yourself. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_squirrel [wikipedia.org]

They also have flying possums, but they lack the name recognition (thanks Rocky and Bullwinkle!).

As an engineer, I have to design pumps to move fluid through pipes, and one of the biggest factors you have is the height at the destination of the fluid. Running this calculation right now, a mere 1 foot of height increase is roughly the same as pumping something an extra 20 feet. Now that might not seem like much, but add 10 feet of height to a line (such as a vein in a neck) and you are looking at 200 feet of pipe.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186641)

yeah but the blood system is a (usually) closed system so the blood pumping up is offset somewhat by the blood coming down. it's a CIRCULATORY system !

Blasted engineers, think ye know it all because you went to school for a while.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (2, Insightful)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187277)

Try standing perfectly still for hours on end, not flexing your legs even one bit. Sure, circulation will still happen (it's not like the circulatory system is one single loop, it's more like a beltway with various on/off ramps to do your thing in the city, then get back on the beltway in a totally different location), but blood will pool in your legs and it can cause issues by stretching out your veins and you'll start to feel light-headed and might even pass out.

As a results, veins are basically one-way valves. By flexing your muscles, you constrict your veins, forcing the blood within to go in the only direction they allow (back towards the heart).

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186719)

But a flying squirrel has glide flaps, not wings. I have a pretty good imagionation, but have a hard time imagining a flying squirrel flapping its glide flaps hard enough to fly, there's a reason why plane wings are much longer side to side than they are horizontally: Drag. A flying squirrel has a surface that would turn it into a square which is sub optimal for flight, if you look at a bat's wing span, it trades robust arms (which flying squirrels have) for a gossamer wing membrane stretched over tiny bones. It seems like that a flying squirrel has a nice trade-off mix for ground/air combo, but a bat would be at a severe disadvantage on the ground if it couldn't take off. (yes, i know little birds would be worse off, but ground based birds run faster, swim (penguins) or have other methods of evading predators).

A bat without the pecs to effectively make use of its frail arms and fragile wing-skin would probably be the evolutionary equivalent of fast food.

So, you, like TFS (which is sort of what i was criticizing with my original post), only debunk, what's your theory as to why long necked dinosaurs had long necks?

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186421)

Sort of like an ostrich's wings?

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186755)

traded for fast running speed and overall size.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (4, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186063)

So, I'm suggesting that the long neck is held vertically as a way of gaining extra height for food reach, reaching the ground, and longer range vision without the increased bulk of longer legs, taller body, etc.

Not only that, but I'd conjecture that the long neck must have evolved vertically. The musculature required to hold a long neck like that horizontal must be enormous, and hardly an efficient way of bearing weight. Plus, is it any coincidence that the large dinosaur neckbones look kind of like hip bones, the primary vertical weight-bearing bone in people?

And the BS about the massive tail counterbalancing a long neck... for that to work as an opposing force on the neck, with the body as a fulcrum... well... that would required the spine to be pretty rigid. I'm not sure how well that would work in practice.

On a side note, have you ever seen a giraffe try to reach the ground with their head? It's pretty amusing. It reminds me of myself, trying to pick up my kids crayons from the floor... it's a whole lot of effort (what? so I'm not in shape or flexible. That's normal here, right?)

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186219)

Round is a shape, and we all love our women to be flexible.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (2, Informative)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186247)

Yes, it is rather awkward. [youtube.com] Not the best video I've seen, but the best I could find on youtube. I've seen some where it's a much longer drawn out process.

When you see giraffes doing the neck-slapping thing, you can see how when their necks bend sideways, it's not a continuous curve but rather like a low-grade 3d render of one with vertices at each vertebra.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186605)

Giraffes don't have any extra vertebrae, so their necks are mostly rigid.

Drinking water must be a challenge for a giraffe, as he can't "swallow up"!

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186267)

Oh for God's sake! I thought this was put to rest a long time ago. The most famously known sauropod, the brontosaurus (I know they changed the name! I like the old one! Apata-whatever? Please! Thanks to the name Brontosaurus, every time I hear the word bronchitis I think of dinosaurs) has been established to have lived mostly submerged in the water. I'd say that even passing knowledge of how doing exercises in a pool helps the elderly recuperate should go a long way to aid in understanding how a mostly submarine dinosaur's heart working to pump blood all over its body. Whales get big like they do and otherwise couldn't if it weren't for being in the water. Hippos do like that too.

The giraffe is certainly an animal that pushes certain limits, but its overall weight and height is nothing compared to what a brontosaur would have to maintain.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28187063)

I thought it was the bracciosaurus that lived in the water?

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187291)

With the possible exception of the smaller sauropods, some of the random information I have gleaned in the past had revealed that the larger ones were swamp dwellers with a big chunk of skin draping their necks as revealed in some article that was, ironically enough, was mentioned here on slashdot. Must have been more than two years ago I think. The notion that they were actually hanging out in the water most of the time served to answer a lot of things like how they could actually get that big to begin with.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (3, Interesting)

Binestar (28861) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187243)

http://www.unmuseum.org/dinobront.htm [unmuseum.org]

Today, scientist's vision of the habits and habitat of the Apatosaurus are quite different than what Marsh and other early paleontologists had thought. Early analysis suggested that the animals must have been weak because their small heads could only chew the minimum amount of food necessary to fuel such a big body. So weak, in fact, that large sauropods were thought to be slow, unable to lift their bulky tails off the ground and only able to support their massive weight by living in shallow lakes and swamps where water floated their bulk.

Paleontologists like Bakker showed that this image was wrong. No Apatosaurus skeleton has been found in an ancient body of water and its feet were not at all suited for walking through marshy and muddy ground. In fact, Bakker notes in his book Dinosaur Heresies, an analysis of changes in geology over time suggest that large sauropods moved out of areas as they became wet: they didn't like swamps at all.

Re:TFA Is slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28187357)

Except, this is not true. There is absolutely no evidence in evolutionary biology to justify the myth that long necks in giraffes exist to help them get higher food as a evolutionary advantage. In fact there is a lot of evidence to the contrary. It's surprisingly interesting stuff if you google it.

Has anyone considered that maybe the dinosaurs (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185849)

were just really emo?

Re:Has anyone considered that maybe the dinosaurs (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186087)

Huh? Why would a dinosaur be emo?

It's not like my lawn in sleepytime, where I get to be a Viking but my lawn is emo because it cuts itself.

I'm sure there's something to your joke, but I just don't get it... can you explain?

Re:Has anyone considered that maybe the dinosaurs (1)

Jake Griffin (1153451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187013)

the big sauropod dinosaurs held...their heads down low

Wait for it... wait for it... there ya go! You get it now!

Re:Has anyone considered that maybe the dinosaurs (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187161)

So the dinosaurs listened to the Rites of Spring and Embrace, were greatly influenced by Husker Du and the DC hardcore scene?

Or were they second wave Emo, listening to Braid, Cap'n Jazz, Sunny Day Real Estate and Texas is the Reason while treating Fugazi and the Pixies like gods?

It's too bad there was no third wave of emo. There were some pretty good bands starting out in the early aughts, too.

Two Things (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185865)

Why are we arguing over which position was the default when it's entirely possible that they utilized both positions. Down low for traveling to avoid blood pressure problems and up high for brief states of alert or reaching high food sources? With the flexibility of the vertebrae, I would assume the animal would use it however it most suited them for the time being.

The other thing is how much do we know about the tissues and proteins that made up muscles and blood in Sauropods? Is it possible that they were much stronger or their blood had different properties making it capable of overcoming the blood pressure problem?

I've seen exhibits that portray them both ways [wikipedia.org] . You just might have to accept that you're never going to know for sure ...

... until you CLONE THEM!

*starts humming the Jurrasic Park theme song with a creepy grin on his face*

Re:Two Things (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185977)

I suspect that the real case here is that some of today's scientists are holding their heads rather higher than they need to be in this 'race' to publication.

Re:Two Things (2, Interesting)

MaXintosh (159753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186057)

Clone them, or get some better impressions of soft tissue. I expect we'll eventually get some, given our history of finding such neat things, but I'm not holding my breath because it's like finding a needle in a haystack.
Er, well, actually more like finding a rock among a planet full of other rocks.

Re:Two Things (3, Interesting)

techess (1322623) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186639)

I agree until we get a better idea of the soft tissue we won't really know.

Giraffes have a very cool way of improving their circulation without just throwing a bigger heart at the solution:
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Some-Weird-Giraffe-Issues-80555.shtml [softpedia.com]

"To pump the blood high to the brain, the heart of the giraffe is very large: up to 11 kg (25 pounds). The heart pushes 60 liters of blood per minute. The muscles of the neck arteries are relaxed with each heart beat, helping the propulsion of the blood to the brain. In the neck veins, special valves impede the blood to flow back too rapidly, meanwhile preventing the emergence of a syncope (fainting due to sudden lowering of the blood pressure). At the base of the feet, where pressure is low, there is a system of capillary vessels like in humans, impeding the appearance of edemas. Like humans, the giraffe is one of the few vertebrates which is taller than longer, and NASA studied blood circulation in giraffes for creating an anti-gravity garment for astronauts."

Also horses while not having an extremely long neck also deal with circulation problems by more than throwing in a bigger heart.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circulatory_system_of_the_horse [wikipedia.org]
The frog
Each hoof contains a structural component known as the "frog," which covers the deeper structure of the hoof known as the digital cushion, a vessel-filled tissue. When the horse places weight on a leg, the ground pushes upward on the frog, compressing it and the underlying digital cushion. This results in squeezing blood out of the digital cushion, which then helps to pump it back up the leg, helping the heart to work against gravity.

Nature has done some amazing and unique things with soft tissue to get around limitations. It would be so interesting to find out how dinosaurs worked and what their bodies were really like.

until you CLONE THEM! - Nope (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186173)

Until there's a suitable time machine to enable you to go back and look for yourself.

Re:until you CLONE THEM! - Nope (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186231)

By qualifying it as a "suitable" time machine, are you implying that we currently have time machines, albeit unsuitable to study dinosaurs?

        -dZ.

Re:until you CLONE THEM! - Nope (2, Funny)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186259)

I don't know about yours, but my time machine only goes back to 4004 B.C.

Re:until you CLONE THEM! - Nope (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186425)

Mine goes pretty well as far as you need it to.

The problem is that it only moves forward in time... And only at 1x...

Re:until you CLONE THEM! - Nope (1)

bb5ch39t (786551) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186659)

mine seems to be going 1.1x and accelerating. Didn't a day used to be 24 hours? I'd swear it seems more like about 18 anymore.

Re:until you CLONE THEM! - Nope (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186849)

I don't know about yours, but my time machine only goes back to 4004 B.C.

Bummer...You got the "Old Testament" model.

Re:until you CLONE THEM! - Nope (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186323)

Nope, I qualify it as "suitable", if the control panel (or facsimile thereof) matches the pattern of my favourite shooting jacket :-)
Good point though :-P

Re:until you CLONE THEM! - Nope (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186655)

A mirror is a time machine, for studying things in the past. To study dinosaurs, we'd need a really big mirror, really far away. We don't have a suitable one.

Re:until you CLONE THEM! - Nope (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186657)

"Suitable" time machine == capable of reaching speeds of 88.5 MPH and 121 Jigawatts of power.

Re:until you CLONE THEM! - Nope (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187227)

But does the Jurassic Park theme song flow better into the Back to the Future theme song, or the Doctor Who theme song?

Re:Two Things (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186201)

Down low for traveling to avoid blood pressure problems and up high for brief states of alert or reaching high food sources?

That was the status quo that the authors of this piece are disputing. Down low is default, up high as needed.

Re: their blood and blood pressure... liquid is liquid. Gravity is gravity. Pressure required to overcome gravity is just that. If you're suggesting that their tissues were so significantly different that they could withstand ridiculously high pressures, then fine... but I doubt it would be a property of the blood so much as a property of their vasculature and heart.

... until you CLONE THEM!

Oh yeah? What if they are equally capable of either, and how they hold their heads is learned behavior? What has your cloning done for us then?!

Re:Two Things (2, Funny)

spyfrog (552673) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186327)

Well, then cloning have given us a cool dinosaur that we could use both to fix our lawns and to trim our trees! Multipurpose dino.

Re:Two Things (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186381)

Understand that I am posing this as a real theory, but since we don't have a lot of the soft tissue, there is no way of knowing that the they didn't have more than one 'heart'. If their was a secondary, heart, or even many small pumps, there would be no need for extremely high blood pressure, one giant heart.

Re:Two Things (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186495)

Well, I've read about this theory before, and while it is certainly possible, I think it's unlikely...

No other vertebrates are observed to have multiple hearts. IIRC, the giraffe does have a mechanism to deal with the BP in the head (I think they can block off blood flow or something), and maybe a valve system would provide what's necessary...

What if the major artery in the neck was capable of waves of constriction to force blood upwards, like milking a cow in reverse?

As you say, lots of possibilities since we don't have the soft tissue.

Re:Two Things (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186727)

Giraffe's have a rete mirabile [wikipedia.org] to avoid the head exploding when lowered. This sort of structure has evolved seperately in several unrelated species, so it's quite reasonable that the long-necked dinos had them. The dinos probably didn't need a large blood supply to the brain, the way a mammal does, so the requirements might not be so bad.

Re:Two Things (1)

bb5ch39t (786551) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186731)

gravity is gravity

You are assuming that G is constant over time and space. Some avant-garde scientists are beginning to wonder if this is true.

Re:Two Things (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186777)

Just ask Bozo the Clown, Ph.D.

Re:Two Things (1)

rouge86 (608370) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186405)

I spent the last half hour looking for Jurassic Park 4 because of you. Now, I am disappointed because it was most likely canceled with the death of Michael Crichton.

Re:Two Things (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186561)

I spent the last half hour looking for Jurassic Park 4 because of you. Now, I am disappointed because it was most likely canceled with the death of Michael Crichton.

Jurassic Park 4: Dinosaurmageddon! [penny-arcade.com]

Re:Two Things (1)

OctaviusIII (969957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186451)

Oh, if only... last I heard an atmospheric analysis of the dinosaur's era showed a significantly higher oxygen content than our own atmosphere, meaning any clone would probably be unable to breathe properly. And, since our sauropod problem deals with blood, something tells me the atmosphere would wreck the posture experiment. Damn shame, too, although at least we won't get anybody wondering what a t-rex was like and cloning one of it.

Re:Two Things (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186797)

"The other thing is how much do we know about the tissues and proteins that made up muscles and blood in Sauropods? Is it possible that they were much stronger or their blood had different properties making it capable of overcoming the blood pressure problem?"
Umm have we found any animal that has blood or tissues that would solve that issue? Reptile, Bird, or Mammal?
That seems like a huge leap with out some type of evidence of it existing in nature.

Re:Two Things (1)

Accursed (563233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186873)

I've always kind of wondered if they mostly stuck to rivers and lakes, and used their long necks to reach out and graze trees/shrubs/what have you along the banks.

Oh, come on (4, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185873)

It was only 6000 years ago -- didn't anyone get any pictures?

Re:Oh, come on (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185935)

See the reply to my thread by the AC, and you might have an idea of where the phones were at the time... Ouch.

That's Why They're Extinct? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28185887)

I better get new ergonomic chair for work and for home.

Listen to your mother. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28185903)

Sit up straight! Eat your palm trees! Don't ROAR at your sister! Ignore those tiny furry mousey creatures...they are of no consequenc and won't amount to anything!

Re:Listen to your mother. (4, Funny)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186513)

...I don't care if the neighbors are evolving into birds, we're not doing it. If they were evolving to jump off a cliff, would you do it too? And for the last time, that giant bright spot in the sky the last few days is not an asteroid that will kill us all. I swear, kids these days and their wacky imaginations.

geese (5, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185939)

Well, that was a quick slashdotting. Hopefully they'll be back up soon.

Re: modern pseudo-analogues -- based upon the geese I raised as a kid, I never could quite grok the 'head-held-low' posture. Geese only hold their heads low to screw or to attack. It seems very inefficient for a large creature to hold that much weight horizontally away from the body (remember those physics lessons re: levers and distance from the fulcrum?).

Dinosaurs are awesome, as most five-year-olds will tell you. Armchair paleontology is fun too. And since we slashdotters are so fond of pretending expertise on subjects we know little about, and TFA seems to be slashdotted, I'm looking forward to a very amusing (but maybe not quite so enlightening) discussion.

Re:geese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186185)

Depends on your definition of "inefficient." It's certainly more efficient than being killed because their head was so low that they didn't see the predator about to eat them.

Re:geese (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186227)

I think you misread. The inefficient way of bearing the weight is to hold the head low away from the body. The efficient way is high up, so that the skeletal structure can bear a lot of the weight.

Re:geese (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186253)

Re: modern pseudo-analogues -- based upon the geese I raised as a kid, I never could quite grok the 'head-held-low' posture. Geese only hold their heads low to screw or to attack.

I think it's dangerous to try to compare a two legged winged creature to a four legged creature but from the article:

They found that reptiles and amphibians held their necks mostly horizontally, while mammals and birds (which are more closely related to dinosaurs and share their upright leg structures) all held their necks vertically.

Studying the neck movements of living creatures also suggested that sauropods had a greater range of movement than previously thought.

While scientists had assumed that the dinosaur neck vertebrae overlapped each other by around 50%, that's not true for living creatures like ostriches and giraffes, which can extend their necks till the vertebrae hardly overlap at all.

And in regards to efficiency of the way they hold their neck:

It seems very inefficient for a large creature to hold that much weight horizontally away from the body (remember those physics lessons re: levers and distance from the fulcrum?).

(As the article notes) it's probably a lot harder to have the blood pressure to pump blood all the way up that column to the head. Blood pressure is one of the things they can't explain about their model. The article says, "Estimates of blood pressure also suggested that it would have been very difficult for sauropods to pump their blood up to such a height."

Dinosaurs are awesome, as most five-year-olds will tell you. Armchair paleontology is fun too. And since we slashdotters are so fond of pretending expertise on subjects we know little about, and TFA seems to be slashdotted, I'm looking forward to a very amusing (but maybe not quite so enlightening) discussion.

After reading it, the article's not as great as you think. There's plenty of pictures on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] of the animals depicted both ways.

Re:geese (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186863)

(As the article notes) it's probably a lot harder to have the blood pressure to pump blood all the way up that column to the head. Blood pressure is one of the things they can't explain about their model. The article says, "Estimates of blood pressure also suggested that it would have been very difficult for sauropods to pump their blood up to such a height."

I propose the Stegosaurus Corollary: the long-necked dinosaurs had another heart halfway up the length of their neck!

Giraffes (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186931)

Head-held-high seems to work fine for giraffes, though I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the rate of occurrence of heart problems in that species.

Re:geese (1)

omfglearntoplay (1163771) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186551)

I was thinking the same thing about wasted energy for the horizontal position, but then I thought about their tails. Do their tails go vertical also to save engergy? I can just see those huge dinosaurs now, tail held straight up like a house cat. Heh.

But really, I can't see them staying horizontal for long with their heads... even if the head weighed only a few pounds that would make it so much more energy wasted.

Slashdotted...... (1)

cycler (31440) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185959)

.....already.

I thought sites would have learned by now........

Oh maybe not :)

/C

Re:Slashdotted...... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186507)

Most of the time the site doesn't submit itself for slashdotting.

Someone sees it, goes 'neat' and pushed the button.

Maybe that posturing was due to head pressure (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185973)

or high blood pressure or maybe they had thicknened cell walls up there...

Re:Maybe that posturing was due to head pressure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186055)

maybe they had thicknened cell walls up there...

I'm no paleontologist, but I think they've already established that dinosaurs weren't plants, ergo no cell walls.

Re:Maybe that posturing was due to head pressure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186355)

Well maybe they were bacteria.

Straighten up and fly right! (2, Funny)

awb131 (159522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28185995)

That's going to kill my karma, but I thought it was funny.

Informed speculation (5, Informative)

MaXintosh (159753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186003)

This is all informed speculation - interesting, and it generates a testable hypothesis, but hardly revealing. There's a hundred different ways to go on the issue until they find impressions of soft tissue. The authors (of the paper, not TFA) hedge their bets heavily by saying that IF sauropods are directly comparable to extant taxa... a bet I wouldn't take myself, since sauropods seemed to form a morphoniche we don't see _appreciably_ filled in extant groups (obvious exception excluded).

For people who want their science undiluted, here's the paper: http://www.app.pan.pl/article/item/app54-213.html [app.pan.pl]
Head and neck posture in sauropod dinosaurs inferred from extant animals
Michael P. Taylor, Mathew J. Wedel, and Darren Naish
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54 (2), 2009: 213-220

Re:Informed speculation (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186305)

This is all informed speculation

Aren't all theories?

since sauropods seemed to form a morphoniche we don't see _appreciably_ filled in extant groups

Please, stop making up words. We don't seen any morphoniche filled, because there is simply no such thing.

Thanks for the link, BTW, but the rest of your post is garbage.

Re:Informed speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186531)

Please, get a clue.

http://ww2.coastal.edu/richard/VertZoo/CHAPTER%209.pdf

Re:Informed speculation (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186921)

Oh please.

You googled "morphoniche" and came up with a single result?

And if you actually follow the link, the word doesn't even appear in the pdf document?

You, sir, are either lacking in sincerity or intelligence.

Re:Informed speculation (1)

MaXintosh (159753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186581)

Please, stop making up words. We don't seen any morphoniche filled, because there is simply no such thing.

http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/ridley/a-z/Morphospace.asp
And, for a word pedant, you seemed to have used the word 'Theory' incorrectly. [ucr.edu]
The nearby gradstudent seemed to understand me just fine. So.

Re:Informed speculation (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187023)

I see. So suddenly, "morphoniche" is equivalent to "morphospace".

'Niche' is a generally-used term, which means something quite different -- it refers to a "place" in an ecology, as I'm sure you are aware.

Morphospace refers to a possible forms of an organism. Morphospace is a function of the organism, not of the ecology.

Since the organism in question does not currently exist in living form, it is a tautology that therefore the morphospace is unfilled.

So now, in addition to my assumption that you've made up words to sound like you know what you're talking about, you seem to be confused as to what the actual words mean.

The nearby gradstudent seemed to understand me just fine. So.

I understood what you were trying to say. That was not the issue I had. The issue is that you don't really know what you're talking about, and tried to use big words to compensate.

As for usage of the word theory... no, I meant it as defined. I did not mean hypothesis, although a hypothesis would also fit that criteria.

The wrong turn (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186023)

"...But 'our research [now] suggests that this view of sauropods is simply incorrect, based on everything we know about living animals,' he said."

Maybe they should have based it on what they know about dead animals, eh? Cuz all them dinos are dead, ain't it. I don't think these "researchers" are mucho bright.

yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186095)

looks like the web servers posture is all wrong.

test (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186249)

still wrong

Occams razor tells me (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186263)

The long necked dinosaurs simply tied their long necks into a knot whenever they needed to raise their heads for feeding and observations.

They had a symbiotic relationship with the horned dinosaurs who were needed for untieing the knots.

Coiled up on top (5, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186287)

Come on people, CLEARLY the large long-necked dinosaurs kept their necks curled back and their heads resting on top of their backs.

Re:Coiled up on top (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186703)

Come on people, CLEARLY the large long-necked dinosaurs kept their necks curled back and their heads resting on top of their backs.

+5 Insightful

WTF (0)

dword (735428) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186485)

dissension to the current prevailing wisdom on dinosaur posture

Why do these people write like you need a translation guide with you when you want to understand them?

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186603)

Because they feel smarter that way.

Re:WTF (1)

P1h3r1e3d13 (1158845) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186953)

Because their audience is fluent.
No sense in explaining every piece of anatomy in layman's terms when you're talking to paleontologists who already have specific words for them.

...Unless you meant the sentence you quoted, which isn't really sophistry. What do you want? "Disagreement" instead of "dissension?"

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28186967)

No translation guide needed, just that you went to school, and maybe have read a book in your life. If you really don't understand those 9 words, then smarten up, ignoramus. They're precise words chosen to convey nuance in meaning. But so sorry, you need a robust vocabulary to communicate at that level. If you didn't foster one in yourself, that's why you are feeling confused and worthless. I mean, that's why you ARE confused and worthless. So read. It makes you able to understand things, i.e. not dumb any more.

GOBBLES! (1)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186889)

They all walked around like Gobbles the Turkey?

Matt Wedel must have missed Jurassic Park... (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186891)

"'For the last decade the reigning paradigm in palaeontology has been that the big sauropod dinosaurs held their necks out straight and their heads down low,' said co-author Matt Wedel"

What?! Matt Wedel must have missed Jurassic Park... In that movie, the brachiosaurs had their necks high as swans. What is he talking about?! That notion he is babbling about was killed 40 years ago...

As for the blood pressure, giraffes have the same problem. The water column. They solved it using finely meshed blood vessels. Oh, big wonder we don't fossils of those, yet...

Crap.

Mod Parent +5 funny (1)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187089)

armchair science and movie science merged together to fight actual science. Who will win???

Gravity... (1)

greywire (78262) | more than 5 years ago | (#28186895)

I read an article once that claimed a solution to the issue of the blood pressure with such a long neck and other issues of size with the dinosaurs, and also why they became extinct, and if that werent enough it also explains why the earth *is* only 5000 years old and dating methods are wrong.

You wanna know what it was?

The universal constants like the speed of light, gravity, etc are changing over time! For instance, gravity is increasing, so back then the gravity was much less so there was no problem. As it increased, they died off for obvious reasons. And since the speed of light is changing, that effects our dating methods, etc.

It certainly was an interesting read...

Re:Gravity... (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187259)

That sounds borderline psychotic. Considering scientists are doing experiments for hundreds of years and using those, expecting certain results, shouldn't the results not match what was expected, if those constants are changing? I mean, if the earth *is* only 5000 years old, a couple hundred years would be a significant enough chunk of time to figure it out.

Re:Gravity... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187335)

You're assuming that the constants continue to change at a fixed rate.

No, I don't buy it either.

There is a theory (1)

G00F (241765) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187117)

I recall reading about a theory where the moon impacted with earth, and earth gained it's core and the moon didn't have enough energy to escape, and ended up trap in orbit. Best I can find is Giant impact hypothesis [wikipedia.org] , but I think it was a variation of this.

Something like that could explain mass extinction, and forcing more change with creating tides, seasons, etc. Not to mention, taking a mostly iron core could change gravity enough here where larger animals have a harder time. And look around at other planets, how many have a liquid cores, strong magnetic field, and active tectonic plates. I recall neither Mars or Venus, and so far they are the most like earth out of all other celestial bodies we have found.

Re:There is a theory (2, Insightful)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28187183)

I'm sorry, but reading this completely unrelated tangent, the only thing I could think of was:

Oh yeah, the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time.
They didn't have any white onions, because of the war. The only thing you can get was those big yellow ones...

two words: Octave Levenspiel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28187143)

Prof. Levenspiel has argued that atmospheric pressure was quite different during the days of the dinosaurs. Check it out:
http://levenspiel.com/octave/dinosaurs.htm

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