Sauropod Vegetation

Dinosaur food experiment described in ScienceDaily and Palaeontology, doi: 10.1111/pala.12385.

Dinosaur experts have long been intrigued by how giant sauropods were able to get enough food to provide energy and maintain their large bodies. One theory is that the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air were higher in Mesozoic eras and plants therefore grew faster and more nutritious.  This has been disputed when scientists carried out experiments involving growing plants in high CO2 air and feeding them to herbivorous insects.  The first results indicated that high CO2 plants were less nutritious.  However, as a group of scientists led by Fiona Gill at University of Leeds, UK, pointed out, herbivorous insects are not a good analogy for giant dinosaurs as to how they process their food.  Plant eating dinosaurs were more likely to digest food like other large vertebrate herbivores, by using fermentation processes.

The research team grew the kinds of plants they believed dinosaurs would have eaten, e.g. horsetails, ginkgoes, ferns, Araucaria pines, in high CO2 air and then processed them in a fermentation vat.  They then determined the nutritional value and found “many of the plants had significantly higher energy and nutrient levels than previously believed”.

Gill explained: “The climate was very different in the Mesozoic era — when the huge brachiosaurus and diplodocus lived – with possibly much higher carbon dioxide levels. There has been the assumption that as plants grow faster and/or bigger under higher CO2 levels, their nutritional value decreases. Our results show this isn’t the case for all plant species.”  She went on to comment: “Our research doesn’t give the whole picture of dinosaur diet or cover the breadth of the plants that existed at this time, but a clearer understanding of how the dinosaurs ate can help scientists understand how they lived.”


Editorial Comment:  How a plant eating animal weighing many tons could find enough nutritious food is intriguing, as they would have hard time doing it in today’s environment, especially on a diet of ferns, ginkgoes, pines and horsetail rushes, which except for the pine nuts, are tough fibrous and not particularly nutritious.  The fossil record provably indicates these plants were larger in the past and they may have been more nutritious.

However, Gill is correct about not covering the breadth of plants that dinosaurs could have eaten. It is commonly assumed that dinosaurs lived mainly on plants such as ferns, horsetails and pine trees because grasses and other flowering plants, which are more nutritious, had not yet evolved, but there is evidence in dino dung that dinosaurs actually did eat grasses.  See our report Grass Eating Dinosaur.  It would be interesting to see what results these scientists would have found if they included flowering plants in their experiment.

Dinosaur diet is not a problem when you consider two related pieces of data about the real history of the ‘created’ world. Genesis tells us God created all the different kinds of plants before he created the land animals, including dinosaurs, and that all the land creatures were vegetarian in the beginning. Thus there would have been plenty of highly nutritious plants available for all the plant eating animals.

We would also like to ask the global warming fraternity, who are nearly all evolutionists, what they think caused the much higher levels of carbon dioxide during the time they believe dinosaurs lived. It can’t have been from people driving trucks or from coal and oil-based industries.  Furthermore, why are they afraid of increased CO2 when plants thrive in it and therefore produce more O2 which benefits all, ourselves included.  Do they think dinosaurs might re-evolve and stamp them out?

Evidence News vol. 18 No. 9
18 July 2018
Creation Research Australia

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