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Title: Herbivory in the non-avian dinosauria
Author: Barrett, P. M.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1998
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Dinosaurs were the dominant vertebrates of late Mesozoic terrestrial ecosystems. Part of this success may be due to the acquisition of an herbivorous diet in several major dinosaur clades. This study attempts to identify the feeding adaptations of herbivorous dinosaurs, and also considers some aspects of the evolutionary history and palaeoecology of these animals. Prosauropods, sauropods, and ornithischians have been studied in some detail, and rare occurrences of theropod herbivory have been reviewed briefly. Examination of a wide range of dinosaur taxa has allowed documentation of the "herbivorous adaptations" present in this clade. New anatomical observations are recorded for many of these taxa, and existing descriptions of dinosaur feeding adaptations are assessed critically. These data have been used to evaluate previous hypotheses on dinosaur foraging and food processing, and have also formed the basis for new interpretations of dinosaur feeding. Prosauropods are considered to have been rather generalised consumers, with few clear-cut modifications to an herbivorous way of life. Sauropods are shown to have had much more varied feeding strategies than commonly supposed, and they display evidence of many different jaw actions and food gathering strategies. These differences may have allowed ecological partitioning of sympatric sauropod taxa. Ornithischians possessed the most diverse array of feeding adaptations, and were capable of a variety of jaw actions and foraging strategies. Comparative anatomical, palaeoenvironmental, and phylogenetic evidence suggests that may basal ornithischians and prosauropods may have been omnivorous. Combination of these functional data with recent phylogenetic analyses has permitted deduction of the order in which the various feeding adaptations were acquired within these clades, and has also shown that convergence is extremely common in the evolution of herbivorous features. Reciprocal interactions between herbivory and other biological variables (such as body size and locomotion) suggests that dinosaur herbivory evolved by correlated progression.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available