July 7, 2009

Easy access to food made dinosaurs lazy

An abundant supply of food and an often sedentary lifestyle made dinosaurs the couch potatoes of their world, a leading zoologist said.

The majority of dinosaurs ate plants, while meat-eating dinosaurs feasted on lizards, turtles, eggs and other dinosaurs, Brian McNab, a zoologist from the University of Florida said.

When not foraging or hunting, the great creatures rested, McNab told Britain's Daily Telegraph in a story published Tuesday.

"Like couch potatoes sitting within easy reach of high calorie foods, the gargantuan size of dinosaurs most likely stems from the abundance of resources available, coupled with low energy expenditures, said McNab, whose findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The dinosaurs found many plants edible, including evergreen conifers and ferns, mosses and flowering fruit plants. The abundance of food enabled some dinosaurs to reach masses at least eight times that of other large terrestrial mammals, he said.