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Data from: Diets of giants: the nutritional value of sauropod diet during the Mesozoic

Citation

Gill, Fiona L. et al. (2019), Data from: Diets of giants: the nutritional value of sauropod diet during the Mesozoic, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9j92p2b

Abstract

A major uncertainty in estimating energy budgets and population densities of extinct animals is the carrying capacity of their ecosystems, constrained by net primary productivity (NPP) and its digestible energy content. The hypothesis that increases in NPP due to elevated atmospheric CO2 contributed to the unparalleled size of the sauropods has recently been rejected, based on modern studies on herbivorous insects that imply a general, negative correlation of diet quality and increasing CO2. However, the nutritional value of plants grown under elevated CO2 levels might be very different for vertebrate megaherbivores than for insects. Here we show plant species‐specific responses in metabolizable energy and nitrogen content, equivalent to a two‐fold variation in daily food intake estimates for a typical sauropod, for dinosaur food plant analogues grown under CO2 concentrations spanning estimates for Mesozoic atmospheric concentrations. Our results potentially rebut the hypothesis that constraints on sauropod diet quality were driven by Mesozoic CO2 concentration.

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