Project F2: Food Intake Rate
|Title||Did extreme food intake rates permit sauropod gigantism? Insights from feeding trials and muzzle morphometrics|
|Principal Investigator||Dr. Patrick Steuer|
|Co-Investigator||Dr. Jürgen Hummel|
In reconstructions of aspects of sauropod biology and ecology, their food intake rates have been considered a crucial factor. All animals are limited in their food intake to some degree by their food intake rate. Sauropods represent a unique combination of factors potentially influencing this trait (e. g. large body size, non-chewing, and muzzle dimensions). The food intake rate is influenced by the bite size and bite rate. To obtain an estimation of food intake rates for sauropods, this project will gather data for major extant herbivore groups (mammals, birds, and reptiles). Therefore a feeding trial with various animals of different body weights and of different classes will be conducted, among others elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotami, ostrich, geese, tortoises, and iguana. They will all receive a definite batch of fresh forage, and the time the animal needs to ingest this batch (food intake rate) will be recorded, how much the animal ingests with one bite (bite size), how often the animal chews (chewing rate), and how many bites it needs for the ingested meal (bite rate) will also be measured. Mouth dimensions are considered as an important factor in the determination of food intake, so muzzle length and width of all animal species in this study will be determined with museum skulls. Some sauropod skulls will also be measured. Skull dimensions will be put in relation with body weight. Besides elucidating an important aspect of sauropod feeding behaviour, the data will support reconstructions of higher level processes of sauropod biology and ecology.