One of the strangest thing about all the sauropods is not even, or only, why they grew so large, but why their heads remained so tiny. Notice how tiny and insignificant the head is, in the above typical species, in comparison to the rest of the body. (The only sauropod type with even a fair-sized head is the rather dwarfish Dicraeosaurus). How could such a huge animal have possibly managed to get enough food through its gullet with such a tiny head?
Bob Bakker compares the sauropods to the giant flightless birds - ostriches, emus, the extinct moas, which likewise have tiny heads. They are all, so to speak, "pinheads". Yet they can still process enough food through the use of gastric stones and - without doubt in the case of sauropods, symbiotic micro-organisms.
Here we seem to see the opposite evolutionary tendency to the theropods and (normal) birds. Whereas according to Rudolph Steiner the (flying) bird is, in a sense, "all head", the sauropods is all body, and almost no head at all.
Yet in certain ways sauropods were a lot like birds. The food was broken up by gastric stones in the stomach, and many of the bones, especially the vertebrae, were hollow for lightness, and indicate the presence of air-sacs and an avian-style respiratory system. The long sinuous neck is also a bird-like feature, quite unlike the rigid neck of the giraffe.
In a certain sense then, the sauropoda were like monstrous birds, birds grown tremendously massive, flightless, and quadrapedal.
Page history:page uploaded 8 October 1999