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Re: Deinonychus packs



>Is there any evidence that the Deinonychus' actually killed the
>Tenontosaurus? This would seem like a risky venture. [...] A pack
>that suffers too many casualties will not survive.

Does it not seem likely that you have described just that scenario?
A starving pack, driven to attack more dangerous prey than is their
usual wont, and losing several pack members in so doing.  The very
first deinonychus found still had a claw stuck in the protoceratops
it was attacking, wasn't it?  At least one deinonychus died in an
attack.

But if we do find evidence that they were killed attacking the tenon-
tosaurus, then it would seem we have a lot of predator/prey death
embraces to explain.  Perhaps, it was normal to lose a few...

Just speculation, of course, but mightent the 'raptors have had a
relatively high reproduction rate to provide replacements for what
might even have been "normally risky" hunting?  They might have
habitually preyed on larger and more dangerous herbivours if they
had the replacement rate to sustain that many casualties, especially
if they conserved the lost resources with cannibalism.  If we presume
the pack _normally_ operated like starving wolves, it might be SOP
to take down a large dinosaur and eat both it and any 'raptor casualties
and live off the carcasses until they are too far gone (physically or
organically) to eat.  Do any of the deinonychus or other 'raptor
skeletons show butchering damage from another of the same species?

This viciousness might also be aided if they had other killing abilities.
If they spit poison, or had poison spurs - or even just glands that dripped
on the claws - or if they had grooming behavior that could transfer poison-
ous oil from a gland to the feathers/scales using the claw - then they would
not have the high casualty rate under normal circumstances even with big prey,
but would still have the "attitude" that would lead to pyrrhic attacks
when the pack was depleted, leading to the high incidence of predator/prey
death embraces.  The poison needn't be all that strong - even if all it did
was trigger an allergic reaction in the prey, it would be a big advantage.
One slash, and the prey starts having breathing difficulties - big help to
the rest of the pack, dangerous for the one to deliver that first blow.  But
evolution would have to give _all_ of them that much killer instinct in order
to assure that the first one to arrive would do so.

Dinosaurs were certainly _different_.  Sometimes we need to fly some off-
the-wall ideas just to keep the mainline supplied with possibilities.  I
expect the above ideas will be shot down pretty handily, but it stands to
reason that, if dinosaurs can be "warm-blooded" without being just like
mammals n this regard, then it seems reasonable that "pack behavior"  
might not be a perfect analog, either.

Larry Smith
larrys@alpha.zk3.dec.com