A very long neck that is apparently suitable for feeding at great heights is a characteristic feature of most sauropod dinosaurs. Yet, it remains controversial whether any sauropods actually raised their necks high. Recently, strong physiological arguments have been put forward against the idea of high-browsing sauropods, because of the very high blood pressure that appears to be inevitable when the head is located several metres above the heart. For the sauropod Euhelopus zdanskyi, however, biomechanical evidence clearly indicates high browsing. Energy expenditure owing to high browsing is compared with energy costs for walking a distance. It is demonstrated for Euhelopus as well as for the much larger Brachiosaurus that despite an increase in the metabolic rate, high browsing was worthwhile for a sauropod if resources were far apart.
sauropod; dinosaur; neck; feeding; energy expenditures
The long necks of gigantic sauropod dinosaurs are commonly assumed to have been used for high browsing to obtain enough food. However, this analysis questions whether such a posture was reasonable from the standpoint of energetics. The energy cost of circulating the blood can be estimated accurately from two physiological axioms that relate metabolic rate, blood flow rate and arterial blood pressure: (i) metabolic rate is proportional to blood flow rate and (ii) cardiac work rate is proportional to the product of blood flow rate and blood pressure. The analysis shows that it would have required the animal to expend approximately half of its energy intake just to circulate the blood, primarily because a vertical neck would have required a high systemic arterial blood pressure. It is therefore energetically more feasible to have used a more or less horizontal neck to enable wide browsing while keeping blood pressure low.
dinosaur; sauropod; blood pressure; circulation; neck; feeding height
Stegosaurian dinosaurs have a quadrupedal stance, short forelimbs, short necks, and are generally considered to be low browsers. A new stegosaur, Miragaia longicollum gen. et sp. nov., from the Late Jurassic of Portugal, has a neck comprising at least 17 cervical vertebrae. This is eight additional cervical vertebrae when compared with the ancestral condition seen in basal ornithischians such as Scutellosaurus. Miragaia has a higher cervical count than most of the iconically long-necked sauropod dinosaurs. Long neck length has been achieved by ‘cervicalization’ of anterior dorsal vertebrae and probable lengthening of centra. All these anatomical features are evolutionarily convergent with those exhibited in the necks of sauropod dinosaurs. Miragaia longicollum is based upon a partial articulated skeleton, and includes the only known cranial remains from any European stegosaur. A well-resolved phylogeny supports a new clade that unites Miragaia and Dacentrurus as the sister group to Stegosaurus; this new topology challenges the common view of Dacentrurus as a basal stegosaur.
Stegosaurian dinosaurs; Miragaia longicollum; Dacentrurus; neck elongation; niche partitioning; sexual selection
Theory states that an optimal forager should exploit a patch so long as its harvest rate of resources from the patch exceeds its energetic, predation, and missed opportunity costs for foraging. However, for many foragers, predation is not the only source of danger they face while foraging. Foragers also face the risk of injuring themselves. To test whether risk of injury gives rise to a foraging cost, we offered red foxes pairs of depletable resource patches in which they experienced diminishing returns. The resource patches were identical in all respects, save for the risk of injury. In response, the foxes exploited the safe patches more intensively. They foraged for a longer time and also removed more food (i.e., had lower giving up densities) in the safe patches compared to the risky patches. Although they never sustained injury, video footage revealed that the foxes used greater care while foraging from the risky patches and removed food at a slower rate. Furthermore, an increase in their hunger state led foxes to allocate more time to foraging from the risky patches, thereby exposing themselves to higher risks. Our results suggest that foxes treat risk of injury as a foraging cost and use time allocation and daring—the willingness to risk injury—as tools for managing their risk of injury while foraging. This is the first study, to our knowledge, which explicitly tests and shows that risk of injury is indeed a foraging cost. While nearly all foragers may face an injury cost of foraging, we suggest that this cost will be largest and most important for predators.
Foraging theory; Optimal patch use; Predator–prey interactions; Red foxes; Daring
Hypothesized upright neck postures in sauropod dinosaurs require systemic arterial blood pressures reaching 700 mmHg at the heart. Recent data on ventricular wall stress indicate that their left ventricles would have weighed 15 times those of similarly sized whales. Such dimensionally, energetically and mechanically disadvantageous ventricles were highly unlikely in an endothermic sauropod. Accessory hearts or a siphon mechanism, with sub-atmospheric blood pressures in the head, were also not feasible. If the blood flow requirements of sauropods were typical of ectotherms, the left-ventricular blood volume and mass would have been smaller; nevertheless, the heart would have suffered the serious mechanical disadvantage of thick walls. It is doubtful that any large sauropod could have raised its neck vertically and endured high arterial blood pressure, and it certainly could not if it had high metabolic rates characteristic of endotherms.
Sauropod dinosaur bones are common in Mesozoic terrestrial sediments, but sauropod skulls are exceedingly rare—cranial materials are known for less than one third of sauropod genera and even fewer are known from complete skulls. Here we describe the first complete sauropod skull from the Cretaceous of the Americas, Abydosaurus mcintoshi, n. gen., n. sp., known from 104.46 ± 0.95 Ma (megannum) sediments from Dinosaur National Monument, USA. Abydosaurus shares close ancestry with Brachiosaurus, which appeared in the fossil record ca. 45 million years earlier and had substantially broader teeth. A survey of tooth shape in sauropodomorphs demonstrates that sauropods evolved broad crowns during the Early Jurassic but did not evolve narrow crowns until the Late Jurassic, when they occupied their greatest range of crown breadths. During the Cretaceous, brachiosaurids and other lineages independently underwent a marked diminution in tooth breadth, and before the latest Cretaceous broad-crowned sauropods were extinct on all continental landmasses. Differential survival and diversification of narrow-crowned sauropods in the Late Cretaceous appears to be a directed trend that was not correlated with changes in plant diversity or abundance, but may signal a shift towards elevated tooth replacement rates and high-wear dentition. Sauropods lacked many of the complex herbivorous adaptations present within contemporaneous ornithischian herbivores, such as beaks, cheeks, kinesis, and heterodonty. The spartan design of sauropod skulls may be related to their remarkably small size—sauropod skulls account for only 1/200th of total body volume compared to 1/30th body volume in ornithopod dinosaurs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00114-010-0650-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Dinosauria; Sauropoda; Cretaceous; North America; Herbivory; Tooth shape
Polished pebbles occasionally found within skeletons of giant herbivorous sauropod dinosaurs are very likely to be gastroliths (stomach stones). Here, we show that based on feeding experiments with ostriches and comparative data for relative gastrolith mass in birds, sauropod gastroliths do not represent the remains of an avian-style gastric mill. Feeding experiments with farm ostriches showed that bird gastroliths experience fast abrasion in the gizzard and do not develop a polish. Relative gastrolith mass in sauropods (gastrolith mass much less than 0.1% of body mass) is at least an order of magnitude less than that in ostriches and other herbivorous birds (gastrolith mass approximates 1% of body mass), also arguing against the presence of a gastric mill in sauropods. Sauropod dinosaurs possibly compensated for their limited oral processing and gastric trituration capabilities by greatly increasing food retention time in the digestive system. Gastrolith clusters of some derived theropod dinosaurs (oviraptorosaurs and ornithomimosaurs) compare well with those of birds, suggesting that the gastric mill evolved in the avian stem lineage.
gizzard; digestion; sauropod dinosaurs; extant birds; gastroliths
As gigantic herbivores, sauropod dinosaurs were among the most important members of Mesozoic communities. Understanding their ecology is fundamental to developing a complete picture of Jurassic and Cretaceous food webs. One group of sauropods in particular, Diplodocoidea, has long been a source of debate with regard to what and how they ate. Because of their long lineage duration (Late Jurassic-Late Cretaceous) and cosmopolitan distribution, diplodocoids formed important parts of multiple ecosystems. Additionally, fortuitous preservation of a large proportion of cranial elements makes them an ideal clade in which to examine feeding behavior.
Hypotheses of various browsing behaviors (selective and nonselective browsing at ground-height, mid-height, or in the upper canopy) were examined using snout shape (square vs. round) and dental microwear. The square snouts, large proportion of pits, and fine subparallel scratches in Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Nigersaurus, and Rebbachisaurus suggest ground-height nonselective browsing; the narrow snouts of Dicraeosaurus, Suuwassea, and Tornieria and the coarse scratches and gouges on the teeth of Dicraeosaurus suggest mid-height selective browsing in those taxa. Comparison with outgroups (Camarasaurus and Brachiosaurus) reinforces the inferences of ground- and mid-height browsing and the existence of both non-selective and selective browsing behaviors in diplodocoids.
These results reaffirm previous work suggesting the presence of diverse feeding strategies in sauropods and provide solid evidence for two different feeding behaviors in Diplodocoidea. These feeding behaviors can subsequently be tied to paleoecology, such that non-selective, ground-height behaviors are restricted to open, savanna-type environments. Selective browsing behaviors are known from multiple sauropod clades and were practiced in multiple environments.
Sauropod dinosaurs, the dominant herbivores throughout the Jurassic, challenge general rules of large vertebrate herbivory. With body weights surpassing those of any other megaherbivore, they relied almost exclusively on pre-angiosperm plants such as gymnosperms, ferns and fern allies as food sources, plant groups that are generally believed to be of very low nutritional quality. However, the nutritive value of these taxa is virtually unknown, despite their importance in the reconstruction of the ecology of Mesozoic herbivores. Using a feed evaluation test for extant herbivores, we show that the energy content of horsetails and of certain conifers and ferns is at a level comparable to extant browse. Based on our experimental results, plants such as Equisetum, Araucaria, Ginkgo and Angiopteris would have formed a major part of sauropod diets, while cycads, tree ferns and podocarp conifers would have been poor sources of energy. Energy-rich but slow-fermenting Araucaria, which was globally distributed in the Jurassic, was probably targeted by giant, high-browsing sauropods with their presumably very long ingesta retention times. Our data make possible a more realistic calculation of the daily food intake of an individual sauropod and improve our understanding of how large herbivorous dinosaurs could have flourished in pre-angiosperm ecosystems.
herbivorous dinosaurs; Mesozoic food plants; herbivory; nutrition
Existing knowledge of the tracks left by sauropod dinosaurs (loosely ‘brontosaurs’) is essentially two-dimensional, derived mainly from footprints exposed on bedding planes, but examples in the Broome Sandstone (Early Cretaceous) of Western Australia provide a complementary three-dimensional picture showing the extent to which walking sauropods could deform the ground beneath their feet. The patterns of deformation created by sauropods traversing thinly-stratified lagoonal deposits of the Broome Sandstone are unprecedented in their extent and structural complexity. The stacks of transmitted reliefs (underprints or ghost prints) beneath individual footfalls are nested into a hierarchy of deeper and more inclusive basins and troughs which eventually attain the size of minor tectonic features. Ultimately the sauropod track-makers deformed the substrate to such an extent that they remodelled the topography of the landscape they inhabited. Such patterns of substrate deformation are revealed by investigating fragmentary and eroded footprints, not by the conventional search for pristine footprints on intact bedding planes. For that reason it is not known whether similar patterns of substrate deformation might occur at sauropod track-sites elsewhere in the world.
The histology of cervical ribs of Sauropoda reveals a primary bone tissue, which largely consists of longitudinally oriented mineralized collagen fibres, essentially the same tissue as found in ossified tendons. The absence of regular periosteal bone and the dominance of longitudinal fibres contradict the ventral bracing hypothesis (VBH) postulated for sauropod necks. The VBH predicts histologically primary periosteal bone with fibres oriented perpendicular to the rib long axis, indicative of connective tissue between overlapping hyperelongated cervical ribs. The transformation of the cervical ribs into ossified tendons makes the neck more flexible and implies that tension forces acted mainly along the length of the neck. This is contrary to the VBH, which requires compressive forces along the neck. Tension forces would allow important neck muscles to shift back to the trunk region, making the neck much lighter.
Sauropoda; histology; cervical ribs; ossified tendons; neck mechanics
The pre-sacral vertebrae of most sauropod dinosaurs were surrounded by interconnected, air-filled diverticula, penetrating into the bones and creating an intricate internal cavity system within the vertebrae. Computational finite-element models of two sauropod cervical vertebrae now demonstrate the mechanical reason for vertebral pneumaticity. The analyses show that the structure of the cervical vertebrae leads to an even distribution of all occurring stress fields along the vertebrae, concentrated mainly on their external surface and the vertebral laminae. The regions between vertebral laminae and the interior part of the vertebral body including thin bony struts and septa are mostly unloaded and pneumatic structures are positioned in these regions of minimal stress. The morphology of sauropod cervical vertebrae was influenced by strongly segmented axial neck muscles, which require only small attachment areas on each vertebra, and pneumatic epithelia that are able to resorb bone that is not mechanically loaded. The interaction of these soft tissues with the bony tissue of the vertebrae produced lightweight, air-filled vertebrae in which most stresses were borne by the external cortical bone. Cervical pneumaticity was therefore an important prerequisite for neck enlargement in sauropods. Thus, we expect that vertebral pneumaticity in other parts of the body to have a similar role in enabling gigantism.
sauropoda; vertebral pneumaticity; finite-element analysis; cervical vertebrae; gigantism
The early evolution of sauropod dinosaurs is poorly understood because of a highly incomplete fossil record. New discoveries of Early and Middle Jurassic sauropods have a great potential to lead to a better understanding of early sauropod evolution and to reevaluate the patterns of sauropod diversification.
A new sauropod from the Middle Jurassic of Niger, Spinophorosaurus nigerensis n. gen. et sp., is the most complete basal sauropod currently known. The taxon shares many anatomical characters with Middle Jurassic East Asian sauropods, while it is strongly dissimilar to Lower and Middle Jurassic South American and Indian forms. A possible explanation for this pattern is a separation of Laurasian and South Gondwanan Middle Jurassic sauropod faunas by geographic barriers. Integration of phylogenetic analyses and paleogeographic data reveals congruence between early sauropod evolution and hypotheses about Jurassic paleoclimate and phytogeography.
Spinophorosaurus demonstrates that many putatively derived characters of Middle Jurassic East Asian sauropods are plesiomorphic for eusauropods, while South Gondwanan eusauropods may represent a specialized line. The anatomy of Spinophorosaurus indicates that key innovations in Jurassic sauropod evolution might have taken place in North Africa, an area close to the equator with summer-wet climate at that time. Jurassic climatic zones and phytogeography possibly controlled early sauropod diversification.
The origin of sauropod dinosaurs is one of the major landmarks of dinosaur evolution but is still poorly understood. This drastic transformation involved major skeletal modifications, including a shift from the small and gracile condition of primitive sauropodomorphs to the gigantic and quadrupedal condition of sauropods. Recent findings in the Late Triassic–Early Jurassic of Gondwana provide critical evidence to understand the origin and early evolution of sauropods.
A new sauropodomorph dinosaur, Leonerasaurus taquetrensis gen. et sp. nov., is described from the Las Leoneras Formation of Central Patagonia (Argentina). The new taxon is diagnosed by the presence of anterior unserrated teeth with a low spoon-shaped crown, amphicoelous and acamerate vertebral centra, four sacral vertebrae, and humeral deltopectoral crest low and medially deflected along its distal half. The phylogenetic analysis depicts Leonerasaurus as one of the closest outgroups of Sauropoda, being the sister taxon of a clade of large bodied taxa composed of Melanorosaurus and Sauropoda.
The dental and postcranial anatomy of Leonerasaurus supports its close affinities with basal sauropods. Despite the small size and plesiomorphic skeletal anatomy of Leonerasaurus, the four vertebrae that compose its sacrum resemble that of the large-bodied primitive sauropods. This shows that the appearance of the sauropod-type of sacrum predated the marked increase in body size that characterizes the origins of sauropods, rejecting a causal explanation and evolutionary linkage between this sacral configuration and body size. Alternative phylogenetic placements of Leonerasaurus as a basal anchisaurian imply a convergent acquisition of the sauropod-type sacrum in the new small-bodied taxon, also rejecting an evolutionary dependence of sacral configuration and body size in sauropodomorphs. This and other recent discoveries are showing that the characteristic sauropod body plan evolved gradually, with a step-wise pattern of character appearance.
Fossils of the Early Cretaceous dinosaur, Nigersaurus taqueti, document for the first time the cranial anatomy of a rebbachisaurid sauropod. Its extreme adaptations for herbivory at ground-level challenge current hypotheses regarding feeding function and feeding strategy among diplodocoids, the larger clade of sauropods that includes Nigersaurus. We used high resolution computed tomography, stereolithography, and standard molding and casting techniques to reassemble the extremely fragile skull. Computed tomography also allowed us to render the first endocast for a sauropod preserving portions of the olfactory bulbs, cerebrum and inner ear, the latter permitting us to establish habitual head posture. To elucidate evidence of tooth wear and tooth replacement rate, we used photographic-casting techniques and crown thin sections, respectively. To reconstruct its 9-meter postcranial skeleton, we combined and size-adjusted multiple partial skeletons. Finally, we used maximum parsimony algorithms on character data to obtain the best estimate of phylogenetic relationships among diplodocoid sauropods. Nigersaurus taqueti shows extreme adaptations for a dinosaurian herbivore including a skull of extremely light construction, tooth batteries located at the distal end of the jaws, tooth replacement as fast as one per month, an expanded muzzle that faces directly toward the ground, and hollow presacral vertebral centra with more air sac space than bone by volume. A cranial endocast provides the first reasonably complete view of a sauropod brain including its small olfactory bulbs and cerebrum. Skeletal and dental evidence suggests that Nigersaurus was a ground-level herbivore that gathered and sliced relatively soft vegetation, the culmination of a low-browsing feeding strategy first established among diplodocoids during the Jurassic.
Lactation is the most energetically expensive component of reproduction in mammals. Theory predicts that reproducing females will adjust their behaviour to compensate for increased nutritional demands. However, experimental tests are required, since comparisons of the behaviour of naturally reproducing and non-reproducing females cannot distinguish between true costs of reproduction, individual differences or seasonal variation. We experimentally manipulated reproduction in free-ranging, eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus), using a fertility control agent. Our novel field experiment revealed that females altered their behaviour in direct response to the energetic demands of reproduction: reproducing females increased bite rates, and thus food intake, when the energetic demands of lactation were highest. Reproducing females did not reduce the time spent on vigilance for predators, but increased their forage intake on faecal-contaminated pasture, thereby increasing the risk of infection by gastrointestinal parasites—a largely unrecognized potential cost of reproduction.
cost of reproduction; eastern grey kangaroo; foraging behaviour; lactation; Macropus giganteus
In an uncertain world, animals face both unexpected opportunities and danger. Such outcomes can select for two potential strategies: collecting information to reduce uncertainty, or insuring against it. We investigate the relative value of information and insurance (energy reserves) under starvation risk by offering model foragers a choice between constant and varying food sources over finite foraging bouts. We show that sampling the variable option (choosing it when it is not expected to be good) should decline both with lower reserves and late in foraging bouts; in order to be able to reap the reduction in uncertainty associated with exploiting a variable resource effectively, foragers must be able to afford and compensate for an initial increase in the risk of an energetic shortfall associated with choosing the option when it is bad. Consequently, expected exploitation of the varying option increases as it becomes less variable, and when the overall risk of energetic shortfall is reduced. In addition, little activity on the variable alternative is expected until reserves are built up early in a foraging bout. This indicates that gathering information is a luxury while insurance is a necessity, at least when foraging on stochastic and variable food under the risk of starvation.
The occurrence of sauropod manus-only trackways in the fossil record is poorly understood, limiting their potential for understanding locomotor mechanics and behaviour. To elucidate possible causative mechanisms for these traces, finite-element analyses were conducted to model the indentation of substrate by the feet of Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus. Loading was accomplished by applying mass, centre of mass and foot surface area predictions to a range of substrates to model track formation. Experimental results show that when pressure differs between manus and pes, as determined by the distribution of weight and size of respective autopodia, there is a range of substrate shear strengths for which only the manus (or pes) produce enough pressure to deform the substrate, generating a track. If existing reconstructions of sauropod feet and mass distributions are correct, then different taxa will produce either manus- or pes-only trackways in specific substrates. As a result of this work, it is predicted that the occurrence of manus- or pes-only trackways may show geo-temporal correlation with the occurrence of body fossils of specific taxa.
dinosaur; track; finite-element analysis; centre of mass
The effects of patch encounter rate on patch choice and meal patterns were studied in rats foraging in a laboratory environment offering two patch types that were encountered sequentially and randomly. The cost of procuring access to one patch was greater than the other. Patches were either encountered equally often or the high-cost patch was encountered more frequently. As expected, rats exploited the low-cost patch on almost 100% of encounters and exploited the high-cost patch on a percentage of encounters that was inversely proportional to its cost. Meal size was the same at both patches. Surprisingly, when low-cost patches were rare, the rats did not increase their use of high-cost patches. This resulted in spending more time and energy searching for patches and a higher average cost per meal. The rats responded to this increased cost by reducing the frequency and increasing the size of meals at both patches and thereby limited total daily foraging cost and conserved total intake.
Desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, return to their nest when they are disturbed during their foraging trips. Training them to a landmark corridor enabled us to induce ants that were captured immediately after leaving the nest and transferred to an unknown area to start their foraging trips.1 However, most of the ants never traveled the entire foraging distance to the feeder, but aborted their runs after the landmark corridor was no longer visible. Therefore, apart from landmark information and path integrator, there are additional cues that determine the ants' foraging behavior. Considering the reduced straightness of the outbound runs, I argue that surface structure might have a remarkable impact on foraging desert ants.
desert ants; foraging behavior; landmarks; surface structure; training; feeding site
Predation risk describes the energetic cost an animal suffers when making a trade off between maximizing energy intake and minimizing threats to its survival. We tested whether Andean condors (Vultur gryphus) influenced the foraging behaviors of a top predator in Patagonia, the puma (Puma concolor), in ways comparable to direct risks of predation for prey to address three questions: 1) Do condors exact a foraging cost on pumas?; 2) If so, do pumas exhibit behaviors indicative of these risks?; and 3) Do pumas display predictable behaviors associated with prey species foraging in risky environments? Using GPS location data, we located 433 kill sites of 9 pumas and quantified their kill rates. Based upon time pumas spent at a carcass, we quantified handling time. Pumas abandoned >10% of edible meat at 133 of 266 large carcasses after a single night, and did so most often in open grasslands where their carcasses were easily detected by condors. Our data suggested that condors exacted foraging costs on pumas by significantly decreasing puma handling times at carcasses, and that pumas increased their kill rates by 50% relative to those reported for North America to compensate for these losses. Finally, we determined that the relative risks of detection and associated harassment by condors, rather than prey densities, explained puma “giving up times” (GUTs) across structurally variable risk classes in the study area, and that, like many prey species, pumas disproportionately hunted in high-risk, high-resource reward areas.
To better understand how elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) use negative buoyancy to reduce energy metabolism and prolong dive duration, we modelled the energetic cost of transit and deep foraging dives in an elephant seal. A numerical integration technique was used to model the effects of swim speed, descent and ascent angles, and modes of locomotion (i.e. stroking and gliding) on diving metabolic rate, aerobic dive limit, vertical displacement (maximum dive depth) and horizontal displacement (maximum horizontal distance along a straight line between the beginning and end locations of the dive) for aerobic transit and foraging dives. Realistic values of the various parameters were taken from previous experimental data. Our results indicate that there is little energetic advantage to transit dives with gliding descent compared with horizontal swimming beneath the surface. Other factors such as feeding and predator avoidance may favour diving to depth during migration. Gliding descent showed variable energy savings for foraging dives. Deep mid-water foraging dives showed the greatest energy savings (approx. 18%) as a result of gliding during descent. In contrast, flat-bottom foraging dives with horizontal swimming at a depth of 400 m showed less of an energetic advantage with gliding descent, primarily because more of the dive involved stroking. Additional data are needed before the advantages of gliding descent can be fully understood for male and female elephant seals of different age and body composition. This type of data will require animal-borne instruments that can record the behaviour, three-dimensional movements and locomotory performance of free-ranging animals at depth.
diving; locomotion; gliding; aerobic dive limit; elephant seal
Advanced titanosaurian sauropods, such as nemegtosaurids and saltasaurids, were diverse and one of the most important groups of herbivores in the terrestrial biotas of the Late Cretaceous. However, little is known about their rise and diversification prior to the Late Cretaceous. Furthermore, the evolution of their highly-modified skull anatomy has been largely hindered by the scarcity of well-preserved cranial remains. A new sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Brazil represents the earliest advanced titanosaurian known to date, demonstrating that the initial diversification of advanced titanosaurians was well under way at least 30 million years before their known radiation in the latest Cretaceous. The new taxon also preserves the most complete skull among titanosaurians, further revealing that their low and elongated diplodocid-like skull morphology appeared much earlier than previously thought.
► We demonstrate the benefits of a combined use of infrared thermography with respiratory measurements in insect ecophysiological research. ► Infrared thermography enables repeated investigation of behaviour and thermoregulation without behavioural impairment. ► Comparison with respirometry brings new insights into the mechanisms of energetic optimisation of bee and wasp foraging. ► Combination of methods improves interpretation of respiratory traces in determinations of insect critical thermal limits.
Endothermic insects like honeybees and some wasps have to cope with an enormous heat loss during foraging because of their small body size in comparison to endotherms like mammals and birds. The enormous costs of thermoregulation call for optimisation. Honeybees and wasps differ in their critical thermal maximum, which enables the bees to kill the wasps by heat. We here demonstrate the benefits of a combined use of body temperature measurement with infrared thermography, and respiratory measurements of energy turnover (O2 consumption or CO2 production via flow-through respirometry) to answer questions of insect ecophysiological research, and we describe calibrations to receive accurate results.
To assess the question of what foraging honeybees optimise, their body temperature was compared with their energy turnover. Honeybees foraging from an artificial flower with unlimited sucrose flow increased body surface temperature and energy turnover with profitability of foraging (sucrose content of the food; 0.5 or 1.5 mol/L). Costs of thermoregulation, however, were rather independent of ambient temperature (13–30 °C). External heat gain by solar radiation was used to increase body temperature. This optimised foraging energetics by increasing suction speed.
In determinations of insect respiratory critical thermal limits, the combined use of respiratory measurements and thermography made possible a more conclusive interpretation of respiratory traces.
Thermography; Respirometry; Energetics; Temperature; Honeybee; Wasp
Biomechanics has made large contributions to dinosaur biology. It has enabled us to estimate both the speeds at which dinosaurs generally moved and the maximum speeds of which they may have been capable. It has told us about the range of postures they could have adopted, for locomotion and for feeding, and about the problems of blood circulation in sauropods with very long necks. It has made it possible to calculate the bite forces of predators such as Tyrannosaurus, and the stresses they imposed on its skull; and to work out the remarkable chewing mechanism of hadrosaurs. It has shown us how some dinosaurs may have produced sounds. It has enabled us to estimate the effectiveness of weapons such as the tail spines of Stegosaurus. In recent years, techniques such as computational tomography and finite element analysis, and advances in computer modelling, have brought new opportunities. Biomechanists should, however, be especially cautious in their work on animals known only as fossils. The lack of living specimens and even soft tissues oblige us to make many assumptions. It is important to be aware of the often wide ranges of uncertainty that result.
dinosaur; biomechanics; locomotion; jaws; behaviour