Wild Things: Life as We Know It

Chewing dinosaurs, climate change, self-sacrificing ants and black bears

Climate change causes carbon dioxide to dissolve in ocean water making it more acidic and efficient at transmitting sound waves. (Paul Souders / Corbis)

Eschewing Chewing

(Maura McCarthy)
How did sauropods, plant-eaters that were the biggest animals ever to walk the earth, get such massive bodies? They didn't chew, say researchers in Bonn and Zurich. The dinosaurs' "enormous gut capacity" (a Diplodocus) extracted nutrients from unchewed food and obviated the need for lots of teeth and bulging jaw muscles. And that made it possible to have a small head and a looong neck, which let it feast on stuff other beasts couldn't reach.

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