How Did Dinosaurs Grow So Big?
Ever wondered why dinosaurs were gigantic and stood out even in an era when most animals were much bigger than they are today? A team of German paleontologists believes they may have found the answer - The giant lizards didn't chew their food!
The team of scientists, which has been working on this project for three years cite a number of reasons for their thesis.
As you probably know, large animals spend copious amounts of time eating - An elephant for instance, eats for 18 hours to keep up with its nutrition needs. While part of it is because it needs a lot of food, the other reason is also because they chew the food, which takes up a lot of time. It seems that dinosaurs did not spend anytime chewing. Instead, they swallowed huge amounts of food, and then let it all digest inside their large stomachs.
Also, animals, that chew a lot, need to have large molars and muscles, which need to fit somewhere - That is why elephants have huge heads. Dinosaurs on the other hand, had very small light skulls.
The lighter skulls also allowed their necks to grow long, which in turn helped with their intake. That's because unlike other animals they did not have to go around the forest scouting for food. Instead, they simple stood in one spot and swallowed and swallowed and swallowed!
Since a lot of the digestion takes place in the mouth as we chew, this probably meant that the food the dinosaurs ate, took many days to digest. However, it did not matter since they had large stomachs and also an incredibly powerful metabolic rate, thanks to a pair of very sophisticated lungs, which were much more efficient than even those of human beings.
Lastly, some of the largest dinosaurs like the Sauropods ate a diet that included horsetails. While nutritious, these plants are very harmful to the teeth, which is why most animals avoid them. However, it worked for the Sauropods since they simply plucked them and then gobbled them down. Also, they had another secret weapon which no other animal had - the capability to grow new teeth, sometimes as often as every month!
But before you start using this as excuse to gobble down your food, be warned that it worked for these giant creatures because of their huge and efficient stomachs. In your case, it may lead to just a massive stomachache and, an 'I told you so', admonition from your parents!
source:sciencecodec.com-dinosaur research, 5/11/10
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