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Horner on T. rex
The article on Jack Horner in the Nov. 16, 1994, _Chronicle of
Higher Education_ (written by Kim A. McDonald) has this on Horner's
view of the Tyrannosaurus rex as a scavenger rather than a predator:
"...paleontologists, like the rest of us, grew up assuming that
_T. rex_ used its massive hind legs, huge jaw, and rows of long,
serrated teeth to chase down, wrestle with, and tear apart its prey.
"But Mr. Horner sees many things wrong with that picture. For
starters, he says, _T. rex_'s tiny forearms are much shorter and
limited in their range of motion than those of other carnivorous
dinosaurs and would have been useless in holding prey. The
bipedal dinosaur also couldn't run very fast, had a high center of
gravity that made it inherently unstable, and would have probably
crushed itself if it fell while chasing or wrestling with its
"'_T. rex_ didn't have much of a wheelbase,' says James O.
Farlow, a professor of geology at Indiana University-Purdue University
at Fort Wayne and an expert on carnivorous dinosaurs. 'If _T. rex_
fell while moving at speed, it would have been fatal.'
"Mr. Horner thinks all of this, combined with evidence that
_T. rex_ had an olfactory lobe in its brain far bigger than any
dinosaur, suggests that _T. rex_ used its highly developed sense of
smell to sniff out carrion, like turkey vultures, then stood on the
corpses and ripped them apart with its powerful jaws.
"'Being a scavenger, you have the least chance of being
hurt,' he says. 'If you can imagine trying to catch a chicken
with your mouth, your face is going to be a mess.' Mr. Horner has
persuaded some vertebrate paleontologists of his view, but the
majority are skeptical--or say they don't really care.
"'I think Jack's having a good time,' says Mr. [Kevin]
Padian of Berkeley. 'I don't have a dog in this fight, but if
you look at any predators--Komodo dragons, sharks--these animals
will scavenge if given the chance and most of them will scavenge
as much as they kill. They prey on the old, the young, the sick,
and the lame, like lawyers. The difference between this and
scavenging is very light.'....."
Apologies to any lawyers on the list, and to anyone who thinks
I have quoted too long a chunk of the article, but this gives Horner's
main arguments as reported by McDonald. The article contains a good
Department of History
Austin Peay State University
Clarksville, Tennessee 37044