Project B1: Nutrition
|Title||Digestion and nutrition of Sauropods|
|Principal Investigators||Prof. Karl-Heinz Südekum, Dr. Marcus Clauss|
|Researcher||Dr. Jürgen Hummel|
A large body weight has many benefits for a herbivorous animal, but also includes some limitations regarding the digestion of plant material. Digestive efficiency and evolution of digestive strategies in herbivorous animals are closely linked to characteristics of plant material such as its nutrient content, digestibility and resulting metabolizable energy content. In this project, we are exploring some important aspects of digestive physiology of the largest ever existing herbivores, the sauropod dinosaurs, and the relationship between herbivory and body size. One point of interest is the energy content of potential sauropod food which we will estimate by in-vitro-fermentation studies used in agricultural animal nutrition. Processing of food before digestion and the allometry of food particle size, volume of the digestive tract and food retention time is quantified by using extant animals as model species for sauropods. The food intake of sauropods is estimated by simulating sauropod browsing with mechanical models of different sauropod skull.