Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/24/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Answer: Hollow neck bones, scientists say

The dinosaurs known as sauropods were the largest animals to ever walk the earth. These leafy green eaters had by far the longest necks of any known animal, reaching up to 50 feet in length, six times longer than that that of the modern giraffe. How did the sauropods evolve necks longer than any other known creature on earth?  Scientists say this was largely due to the creatures' mostly hollow neck bones.

In order to discover why the sauropods' necks were so long, scientists analyzed other long-necked creatures and compared sauropod anatomy with that of the dinosaurs' nearest living relatives -- birds and crocodilians.

In order to discover why the sauropods' necks were so long, scientists analyzed other long-necked creatures and compared sauropod anatomy with that of the dinosaurs' nearest living relatives -- birds and crocodilians.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/24/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Sauropods, evolution, giraffes, bones, vertebrae


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "They were really stupidly, absurdly oversized," researcher Michael Taylor, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Bristol in England says. "In our feeble, modern world, we're used to thinking of elephants as big, but sauropods reached 10 times the size elephants do. They were the size of walking whales."

In order to discover why the sauropods' necks were so long, scientists analyzed other long-necked creatures and compared sauropod anatomy with that of the dinosaurs' nearest living relatives -- birds and crocodilians.

"Extinct animals - and living animals, too, for that matter - are much more amazing than we realize," Taylor told LiveScience. "Time and again, people have proposed limits to possible animal sizes, like the five-meter (16-foot) wingspan that was supposed to be the limit for flying animals.

"And time and again, they've been blown away. We now know of flying pterosaurs with 10-meter (33-foot) wingspans. And these extremes are achieved by a startling array of anatomical innovations."

Adult bull giraffes currently have the longest necks, capable of reaching about eight feet long. No other living creature exceeds half this length. For instance, ostriches typically have necks only about three feet long.

The largest land-living mammal of all time, inclusive of extinct breeds was the rhino-like creature Paraceratherium, which had a neck maybe 8.2 feet long. The flying reptiles known as pterosaurs could also have surprisingly long necks, such as Arambourgiania, whose neck may have exceeded 10 feet.

The necks of the Loch Ness Monster-like marine reptiles known as plesiosaurs could reach an impressive 23 feet.

Taylor and his colleagues in their research found that the neck bones of sauropods possessed a number of traits that supported such long necks. Air often made up 60 percent of these animals' necks, with some as light as birds' bones, making it easier to support long chains of the bones. The muscles, tendons and ligaments were also positioned around these vertebrae in a way that helped maximize leverage, making neck movements more efficient.

Sauropods also had extensive neck vertebrae, up to 19. In contrast, nearly all mammals have no more than seven, from mice to whales to giraffes, limiting how long their necks can get.

"Sauropod heads are essentially all mouth. The jaw joint is at the very back of the skull, and they didn't have cheeks, so they came pretty close to having Pac Man-Cookie Monster flip-top heads," researcher Mathew Wedel at the Western University of Health Sciences says,

"It's natural to wonder if the lack of chewing didn't, well, come back to bite them, in terms of digestive efficiency. But some recent work on digestion in large animals has shown that after about three days, animals have gotten all the nutrition they can from their food, regardless of particle size.

"And sauropods were so big that the food would have spent that long going through them anyway," Wedel said. "They could stop chewing entirely, with no loss of digestive efficiency."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Green

The FRIGHTENING REALITY of sea level rise for United States' coastal cities: Where will they be in 30 years? Watch

Image of New York City is one of the coastal cities that will suffer with sea level rise.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In 30 to 40 years, the sea level is likely to be between six and 15 inches higher than it was in 1986. Flooding along the United States coasts will become more common and some coastal cities may even be left permanently submerged in water. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Why are California's giant trees DYING? Scientists rush to save these wooden giants Watch

Image of Many of California's giant trees are dying off, and scientists believe climate change is the primary factor, as smaller trees more adaptable to dryer and warm climates flourish.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Long home to venerable ancient Redwoods and massive pines, California may see an end to the giant trees that have been a hallmark of much of the state-especially the northern half. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Climate change may be the culprit, scientists ... continue reading


Trapped under 33 feet of ice, these miraculous creatures survive in perpetual night and freezing temperatures Watch

Image of Locked in a small pocket between 33 feet of ice and the seafloor, researchers have found a living community of fish, isolated from the surrounding ocean.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln made a miraculous discovery while drilling through a 2,430 foot thick sheet of ice in Antarctica, a fish that has been living in perpetual night underneath the ice sheet. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ... continue reading


One third of great apes dead due to Ebola: Deadly disease making inroads on animal kingdom Watch

Image of Disease is not the only culprit. The great apes also are decimated by illegal trading in wildlife, deforestation, wars and other infectious diseases.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The much dreaded Ebola virus continues to ravage most of West Africa, -- and is taking its toll on humankind's closest biological cousins, apes and monkeys. One-third of all primates in the wild have died from the deadly virus since the 1990s. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Dealing with climate change requires 'real leadership': Romney takes Obama to task over failed green policies Watch

Image of Mitt Romney, two time presidential hopeful and likely 2016 candidate, spoke out on the issue of climate change, in a move likely intended to bolster support from moderate Republicans and independents who feel it is a major issue that needs to be seriously addressed.

By Matt Watterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Mitt Romney may not have officially announced his intention to run for president in 2016, but that doesn't mean the former Massachusetts governor and two time presidential hopeful isn't already hard on the campaign trail. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Massive oil spill in the Yellowstone River leaves many enraged and without water Watch

Image of Though it's not the first oil spill in the Yellowstone River, this incident left thousands without clean water.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An oil pipeline breach underneath the Yellowstone River on January 17 altered the lives of many people living near the spill. The residents of Glendive, Montana experienced great terror when oil began to erupt into the river and contaminate their water supply. LOS ... continue reading


Scientists warn of mass extinction event that may even affect humans! Watch

Image of Human pollution and exploitation fo the ocean is resulting in mass extinction for numerous marine animals.

By Matt Watterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new study out of the University of California, Santa Barbara is warning that the loss of individual animal species in the world's oceans is about to "rapidly intensify" because of ongoing pollution, exploitation and destruction by humanity. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


The unbelievable living fossil! Fisherman finds shocking 'monster shark' off the coast of Australia Watch

Image of According to South East Trawl Fishing Association, the frilled shark is often referred to as a

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Straight out of a horror film, a fisherman finds a monstrous sea-creature in the waters off Australia's coast. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Often referred to as a "living fossil," the sea creature is actually a type of shark. According to the South East Trawl ... continue reading


This one image may change how you think about global warming Watch

Image of Swimmers keep cool playing in an Alaskan lake amid record-breaking heatwaves in the state.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Last year, 2014, has been declared the hottest year since temperature records were started in 1880. Although the net temperature increase appears small, the local impacts are significant. Record setting years are also becoming more common, suggesting that the current ... continue reading


Innovative 'canal-top' solar energy plant in western India inaugurated Watch

Image of The 10 MW plant on the outskirts of Vadodara city, which began generating power in November, is built across 3.6 km of irrigation canal, and has 33,800 solar panels mounted on steel scaffolding.

By Manipadma Jena, Thomson Reuters Foundation

As India moves to ramp up investment in solar power, it is exploring innovative places to install solar plants, including across the top of canals. VADODARA, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Last weekend, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon inaugurated a new ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 10:11-18
11 Every priest stands at his duties every day, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4
1 [Of David Psalm] Yahweh declared to my Lord, 'Take ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:1-20
1 Again he began to teach them by the lakeside, but ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 28th, 2015 Image

St. Thomas Aquinas
January 28: St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church, patron of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter