Sauropod Dinosaurs Had Zigzagging Bones In Long Necks

Posted: Mar 1 2017, 11:58am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Sauropod Dinosaurs had Zigzagging Bones in Long Necks
A side view of the 'zigzagging' sauropod vertebra from a species called Spinophorosaurus nigerensis. The zigzagging bones fit together like a puzzle piece to provide better grip to the bones so one part is not pulled off from the other. Credit: Jhon Fronimos via Mail Online
  • Zigzagging Bones bolstered Lengthy Necks of Ancient Dinosaurs

The zigzagging bones bolstered the lengthy necks of ancient dinosaurs. This is why some of them had such elongated necks in the first place.

The movie Jurassic Park showed huge dinosaurs that had necks which reached the tallest trees. These humongous long-necked dinosaurs were termed sauropods.

They reached 50 meters from head to tail and reached weights of 77 tons. That is 14 times the average weight of an African elephant.

The hidden physiological dimension which allowed these dinosaurs to have such long necks and heavy poundage was their zigzagging bones. These bones fit together in their spines like a jigsaw puzzle.

Most of these sauropods were quadrupeds and herbivores to boot. While they had lengthy necks and tails, their life skills as gigantic creatures were very limited and the brain size of these sauropods was small as well.

It is a commonsense saying that the larger a body is, the harder its survival becomes. The weight needs maintenance which is no child’s play.

Scientists have always been fascinated by how these sauropods became so large in size. Aside from zigzagging bones, these sauropods developed a number of other methods of ensuring that they not only survived but thrived in their Jurassic environment.

They had legs which looked like the huge pillars of a palace. Their heads were relatively small like their brain size. Also air pockets in these bones allowed them to not weight as much as they would have had the bones been made of a more solid substance.

A researcher, Dr. John Fronimos, studied the fossils of Spinophorosaurus nigerensis. He noticed the zigzagging pattern of the vertebrae. Vertebrae form the backbone of the creature through which the spinal cord passes.

In both mammalian species and sauropods, each vertebra consists of two bones which meld over the passage of time. These are the centrum and the neural arch. Like a lock they provide security to the spinal cord which passes through them.

In human beings, these two bones fuse by the time the child reaches 6 or 7 years of age. In sauropods though this fusion takes place at 20 years of age.

This is when they are full-fledged adults. The zigzagging pattern of these sauropod bones ensures that they remain flexible, according to MailOnline.

The surface area over which these bones contact one another is also increased thanks to this zigzagging effect. Thus the stress and strain on these bones is less than usual.

This plays out as advantageous for the sauropod. This study laid bare some of the explanatory theory regarding the sauropods of the Jurassic Period. The backbones of these dinosaurs were thus unique and singular in their structural-functional status.

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