Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If You Use a Screen Reader

This content is available through Read Online (Free) program, which relies on page scans. Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.

Speculations About the Diet and Digestive Physiology of Herbivorous Dinosaurs

James O. Farlow
Paleobiology
Vol. 13, No. 1 (Winter, 1987), pp. 60-72
Published by: Paleontological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2400838
Page Count: 13
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Download ($12.00)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Speculations About the Diet and Digestive Physiology of Herbivorous Dinosaurs
Preview not available

Abstract

Like living herbivorous lizards, chelonians, birds, and mammals, plant-eating dinosaurs probably relied on a symbiotic gut microflora, housed in a hindgut fermentation chamber, to break down plant cell wall constituents. Large body sizes in most herbivorous dinosaurs resulted in low mass-specific metabolic rates and low rates of digesta passage through the gut; the effects of large body size were probably enhanced by the low metabolic rates of large dinosaurs as compared with large mammals. The long residence time of digesta in the gut permitted long exposure of refractory plant materials to the microflora, probably enabling even those dinosaurs with unsophisticated dentitions to survive on fodder with high fiber content. Large herbivorous dinosaurs probably fed on plants whose allelochemical defenses were geared more toward reducing digestibility than attacking the herbivore's metabolism directly, obviating the need for a foregut fermentation chamber and permitting these large herbivores to take advantage of the energetic benefits of hindgut fermentation for digestion of low-quality fodder. Differences in dentitions among the groups of herbivorous dinosaurs may correlate with differences in standard metabolic rate, activity level, body size, or food quality, or combinations of these factors, but the relative importance of each is difficult to assess. Because the mass of the fermentation contents was probably large in big herbivorous dinosaurs, the heat of fermentation may have been a significant source of thermoregulatory heat for these reptiles.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[60]
    [60]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
61
    61
  • Thumbnail: Page 
62
    62
  • Thumbnail: Page 
63
    63
  • Thumbnail: Page 
64
    64
  • Thumbnail: Page 
65
    65
  • Thumbnail: Page 
66
    66
  • Thumbnail: Page 
67
    67
  • Thumbnail: Page 
68
    68
  • Thumbnail: Page 
69
    69
  • Thumbnail: Page 
70
    70
  • Thumbnail: Page 
71
    71
  • Thumbnail: Page 
72
    72