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Trexie and whales..?!



 Betty Cunningham  wrote:
     "in Hawaii, the top predator is either the rat, mongoose, or house cat.
     Is that what you mean?  Do these count?  I don't think they evolved
     into an existing niche, but were rather opportunists using a niche
     which had no locally evolved organisms in it."
     -Betty

Furthermore, since these "top predetors"  in Hawaii are introduced exotics
the prey organisims have evolved no defenses against them.   "Nature"
doesn't care about such things.   But,  this is largely a human tragedy
suitable for a whole other discussion group.

In the current discussion about dinosaur predetor/prey relationships it is
most likely that dinosaurs did behave  like modern animals; i.e.:
Predetors select the old, the sick, the weak, the lame, the young, the
foolish, the inattentive, the stupid, the stuck in the mud and the
otherwise vulnerable or out of their element.  IMHO No predetor mounts a
serious attack on the  Alpha male or female on it's own turf, especially
when the prey species is as large or larger than the predetor.

         I recently saw two pieces of film footage;   In one, a pack of
jackels or wild dogs took down a water buffalo with classic pack stratigy,
you know, chase, surround, harrass from all sides, takedown, kill and
consume.   All very efficient and effective, but the water buffalo had some
injury or weakness before the jackels confronted it.  So, could a pack of
Dromaeosaurus rampage over an injured or elderly Triceratops, and kill and
eat it?  Probably, given the opportunity.  Would they attempt to swarm a
big Triceratops in the prime of life.  Not very likely unless they operated
in battallion sized packs.  Most likely Dromaeosaurus preyed and scavanged
on lots of other stuff too,  the above scenario rare and unlikely but not
implausable.

        BTW,  Greg Paul estimates the size of  Dromaeosaurus at 0.5 meters
high at the hip, and 15 K gram.  .  .  .  .  Uh?   This is somewhat larger
than your average house cat (Rob Meyerson) and a cat is a poor model for a
biped dinosaur anyway.  Maximum weight of a female Snowy Owl, largest owl
in N America is 2 k gram.   So Dromaeosaurus are more or less an order of
magnitude larger (more massive) than most modern raptors.  That's Raptors
in the ornithological sense.  I still like the roadrunner model, and a 15 K
roadrunner with a 0.25 M skull, full of big teeth, big sickle claws and a
pack mentality is a couple of orders of magnitude more formidible than your
average house cat.

        The other piece of film that caught my attention showed a
confrontation between two young male African Lions and a baby African
Elephant.  The baby elephant had been isolated on one side of a river while
the rest of the heard had already crossed,  and the two  yearling lions
were  strong but inexperienced.  Never the less, the lions did their best
and after much effort they brought the elephant down.  This was hard to
watch, 'cause I thought the elephant had lost the battle.  The lions tried
to claw and bite but could not penetrate the pachyderm.  The elephant lay
on the ground and grunted and bellowed during this assault.  After a while
the elephant seemed to recover and the lions lost interest.  The baby
elephant heaved itself up on its feet, and after a couple of half hearted
tackles and lunges, the lions gave up and the three players parted company.
The outcome may have been different if the lions had been older and more
experienced, or had a little more help.  The elephant/lion size ratio is
much more favorable (to the elephant) than the Triceratops/Tyrannasaurus
size ratio.  So, would a T rex or two, attack and kill a baby Triceratops,
or an old, or sick or otherwise vulnerable Triceratops?  I'll betcha they
would.  Would a Tyrannasaurus rex take on the biggest Bull Triceratops, the
leader of the heard, the head honcho?  Perhaps, but it seems like a self
regulating method of eliminating the stupid or ill advised T rex from the
gene pool.

        Finally, do lions and jackels ever scavange?    Does one scavange
the kill of the other, and visa versa?  Is the Pope Polish?   I think that
the  predetor/scavanger question is a very grey area with very little black
& white;  even among modern animals.  Precious few meat eaters today are
exclusively predetors or scavengers.   Most do both to one degree or
another.   Which makes it very difficult to assign an exclusive mode of
feeding to Dinosaurs.

Surely, these were not the only two theropods in N America during the late
Cretaceous either.  Albertosaurus, Nanotyrannus, Deinonychus, were there at
that time too, weren't they?   Who else?

Bill Hunt - Hunt Studios -  Wildlife - Paleo Wildlife
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"Patience Hell, I'm gonna kill something!"   -  anomymous vulture