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Dinosaur Headlines of March 2009
Posted In: Other Exciting News  3/31/09
By: Yona Williams

This month, dino experts have revealed that a previous thought regarding sauropods with long necks is most likely false. Other dinosaur-related news includes the outcome of an auction involving fossilized skeletons and the juvenile habits of the Triceratops.

Analysis of Long Necked Dinosaur

At the height of the dino's time in power, some sauropods grew rather lengthy necks that reached measurements of more than 29 feet (as seen in the Mamenchisaurus – a Late Jurassic period dino that lived about 150 million years ago).

It was the commonplace thought that these dinosaurs used their necks in the same manner as giraffes – reaching high into trees to eat their daily fill of leaves and other foliage. However, new evidence suggests that this is not true. A paper published in Biology Letters (a journal associated with Britain's Royal Society) makes the claim that the humongous sauropods most likely ate in a horizontal fashion instead of taking a vertical approach. They argue that they chose this way in order to save energy.

Using a simulation produced by Australian evolutionary biologist Roger Seymour, sauropods sustained high blood pressure when their heads were positioned vertically. This put a strain on the energy needed to pump around blood at this high pressure. Seymour pointed out that it would take ½ of its energy intake just to circulate the blood throughout the body. A vertical neck required a high systemic arterial blood pressure, which is why using horizontal positions and movements when eating – the dinosaur was able to keep their blood pressure low.

Juvenile Dinosaurs Roaming in Packs?

The Triceratops belonged to a group known as ceratopsids, which were plant-eating creatures that survived until the end of the Cretaceous Period. In the past, the Triceratops species of dinosaur has been looked upon as being quite the solitary breed, but researchers are thinking otherwise after discovering three juveniles who died together in a flood.

Situated in a bone bed in Montana that dates back 66 million years, three juvenile Triceratops have been found – giving more proof that teenage dinosaurs were not only sociable, but also traveled in small groups. Until now, all of the bones of this particular kind of dinosaur have been found as solo skeletons. With more than 50 total specimens discovered, Triceratops is one of the most well known of all dinosaurs. Researchers were pretty sure that they exhibited anti-social tendencies and disliked hanging with their own kind.

In the end, the three juveniles uncovered in the famous Hell Creek Formation can shed light on the social habits of the Triceratops, hopefully revealing the actions of juveniles, who may have roamed together in small herds.

A No-Go on Dino Sale

What will become of the complete skeleton of a dinosaur that dates back 150 million years, as a gallery in New York has unsuccessfully tried to sell the specimen at an auction? Although the skeleton caught the eye of two unidentified museums, both parties did not meet the minimum asking price of about  $300,000. The gallery will still attempt to broker a deal to find a home for the former 9-foot-long plant-eating creature that stood on two feet – called a Dryosaurus. The same auction was able to find buyers for a 7-foot-tall complete skeleton of a 20,000-year-old, juvenile wooly mammoth ($55,000) and the fossilized skeleton of a 20-foot-long marine lizard ($67,000).


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