March 1, 2015 | David F. Coppedge

The Physics of Long Necks

Long-necked sauropods faced a fundamental problem in physics when stooping down to drink.

Jurassic Park showed sauropods lifting their necks high and stooping down to eat vegetation or drink water. Film animators make it look easy, but imagine the physics problem for the dinosaur: blood rushing to the head and blowing out their brains every time they lowered their heads, or the head losing blood every time the animal lifts its head for the high branches. National Geographic took a look at the problem.

There’s no particular evidence to show how Brachiosaurus and other giant dinos drank, but “obviously they could,” Casey Holliday, of the University of Missouri’s Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, said by email.

We can get an idea of the solution by studying modern day long-neckers: the giraffes.

Like giraffes and long-necked birds, sauropods probably had a series of valves and shunts in their necks that helped regulate the blood going to and from the head, he said.

Giraffes, indeed, have multiple mechanisms for maintaining their systems. Some of these are described by Dr. Jobe Martin in vol. 1 of his series, Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution. He shows how giraffes have extra-large hearts, shunts in the blood vessels to prevent backflow, and sponge-like cushions below the brain to absorb the inrush of blood. National Geographic mentions this last adaptation:

Another trick up the giraffe’s sleeve is the rete mirabile [wonder net], “a network of blood vessels at the base of the brain that controls blood pressure,” he said.

The rete mirabile slows blood flow to and from the brain when the giraffe bends to drink and comes back up.

Nat Geo also mentions the giraffe’s 25-pound heart, and a surprising adaptation in the legs:

Soft tissues around the legs called fascia also “act like pressure stockings to keep blood from pooling in their extremities,” and “specialized valves in their carotid arteries, which bring blood to the brain, prevent blood from sliding backward.”

But since we have no living brachiosaurs to examine, how do we explain their survival when facing similar physics problems? An evolutionary biologist pulled a favorite phrase out of the Darwin toolkit:

Another way of looking at Brachiosaurus’s drinking problem, as it were, is convergent evolution—or the theory that unrelated species evolve similar adaptations when faced with similar challenges, Matthew Bonnan, a biologist at Richard Stockton College, in New Jersey, said via email.

Brett Miller has a page explaining “The Convergence Concoction” of evolutionism. Using multiple examples, Miller shows the phrase to be a non-explanation for a clear observational phenomenon. Giraffes are mammals, and dinosaurs were reptiles. There’s no way a giraffe could have inherited the sauropod’s adaptations.

Jobe Martin shows that all these mechanisms had to be present in the giraffe at the same time, otherwise the animal would die the first time it galloped to escape a predator or lowered its head to get a drink of water.

Nat Geo reporter Liz Langley describes one of these adaptations as “another trick up the giraffe’s sleeve.” But it’s not a trick; it’s a design principle. The only one with a trick up their sleeve is the Darwinist waving the magic wand of “convergent evolution.” This proves that the Darwin magic show is really a comedy act. So don’t applaud; laugh. “Convergent evolution” is the sound made by a clown sitting on a whoopee cushion.



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