Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.690772
Title: Cranial biomechanics of sauropodomorph dinosaurs
Author: Button, David John
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 344X
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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Abstract:
The Sauropodomorpha represented a globally important clade of Mesozoic herbivores and included the largest terrestrial animals known to science. This makes them of great interest in understanding the fundamental constraints acting upon terrestrial life and the evolution of gigantism. However, sauropodomorph biology presents many problems, not least how they secured sufficient food intake to fuel their massive bodies. Herein, a combination of morphological description, 3D reconstruction of osteology and myology, biomechanical modelling, multivariate analysis and evolutionary modelling was performed in order to investigate the sauropodomorph feeding apparatus in more detail. This integrated approach pennitted intenogation of hypotheses that have linked the diversification and gigantism of sauropodomorphs with the evolution of herbivory in the clade. Results demonstrate that basal ('prosauropod') taxa are characterized by relatively gracile and mechanically inefficient skulls and mandibles, but are also highly disparatepotentially relating to variation along the omnivorylherbivory spectrum. A prominent functional shift towards increased cranial robusticity and jaw processing power is observed at the base of Sauropoda, coincident with the attainment of very large body size. This is consistent with a shift towards bulk-herb ivory, providing quantitative evidence for the hypothesised role of such an ecological shift as a driver of sauropodomorph gigantism. Shifts towards novel functional morphologies are also observed in some derived sauropod lineages. Although some similarities are acquired convergently by the derived diplodocoids and titanosaurs each clade remains highly disparate and they cannot be stereotyped as confonning to a common functional 'grade'. The high disparity present in sauropod craniodental systems would have suppOlied dietary niche partitioning between sympatric taxa. Still, despite these functional shifts overall disparity does not increase through the Mesozoic. Similarly, sauropodomorphs do not reoccupy small body sizes after the extinction of 'prosauropod' taxa, suggesting constraint to larger sizes as a result of specialisations of the sauropod bauplan towards gigantism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.690772  DOI: Not available
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