Veggie diet of dinosaurs was more nourishing than previously believed

February 6th, 2008 - 4:45 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Feb 6 (ANI): New research by scientists has revealed that the vegetarian diet of dinosaurs was more nourishing than previously believed, which might explain how the extinct creatures reached huge sizes off seemingly poor food.

According to the research, the largest animals to have ever lived on land were colossal vegetarians known as sauropods, which included the massive Apatosaurus. Strong evidence reveals these herbivores may have reached up to 130 feet in length and 110 tons in weight, and sketchier data hint they might have grown even larger.

These enormous beasts must have relied mostly on ferns, gingkoes, conifers and similar plants. However, those plants are generally seen as very poor in nutritional value, because few animals eat such flora today.
To shed light on how dinosaurs lived off these plants, scientists devised artificial dino guts consisting of airtight glass syringes that held microbes normally found in sheep guts.

Living examples of the kinds of vegetation found during the sauropods’ time were then ground up and placed in the syringes, which then fermented with the bacteria.

The researchers found that gingkoes, horsetails and some ferns and conifers packed surprisingly reasonable amounts of energy, performing roughly as well as grasses and temperate foliage.

According to researcher Jurgen Hummel, a zoologist at the University of Bonn in Germany, this helps to explain how sauropods and other vegetarian dinosaurs could exist on the food sources available to them at that time.

The research also found out that a kind of conifer that the scientists looked at - the araucarias, was slow burning yet high-energy, and it could have proven quite nourishing if it fermented in the huge stomachs of large sauropods for a while. (ANI)

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