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Re: Dinosaur Hunting Techniques



>This is a repost of sorts; I posted this the first time on the
>Sci.bio.paleontology newsgroup, but I think it is rather appropriate for this
>area as well.  My apologies to anyone who's already seen it.
>******
>Back when I was an undergrad at UCB, I wrote a paper for a Functional
>Morphology course in which I discussed the correlation between skeletal
>morphology and hunting techniques of two modern predators:  the African
>lion, and the cheetah.  My intent, however, was to eventually be able to
>use this kind of thinking to examine the hunting behavior of extinct
>animals such as dinosaurs.  From what I have read, little (if anything)
>has been done in this area with respect to therapods.

[I think I should feel insulted about this...]  Let's just say that not all
the work that has already been done on the morphological correlates of
predatory techniques in theropods and other carnivorous terrestrial amniotes
has yet been published (although quite a bit of it is "in preparation" ;-)

For a teaser, how about an abstract by a guy whose name is, hmmm, let's
see...  Oh, yeah, me! in the 1994 abstracts of the SVP meeting.  There
should be a more detailed version of this in the Dinosaur Report down the
line (when I get done writing it...) and of course the technical version,
probably a few years down the line, probably in Paleobiology.


>It is my belief that this sort of analysis, performed much more in depth,
>and based upon the actual bones, rather than the above speculation, will
>provide us not only with a more complete picture of individual dinosaur
>species, but will enhance our understanding of dinosaurian ecology as
>well.

Quite!  Say, do you have any grant money handy?  :-)

>As a slight aside, it is curious to note that, as in the case of the
>cheetah, most analyses of animal locomotion concentrate on limb movement
>patterns and speed.  Very rarely, if at all, are such factors as the
>acceleration abilities considered.  Cheetahs are known to be good high
>speed runners.  But no one really knows how quickly they can reach those
>speeds, because that sort of research has just not been done.  Our current
>understanding of the acceleration abilities of animals is poor, but I
>believe that these analyses are important to gain a proper understanding
>of behavior patterns such as those needed for hunting or escape.  
>
>Derek Smith

One last word: have you ever looked at Cape hunting dogs?  And, while we're
at it, raptorial birds?

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist
Dept. of Geology
University of Maryland
College Park, MD  20742
Email:Thomas_R_HOLTZ@umail.umd.edu (th81)
Fax: 301-314-9661
Phone:301-405-4084