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Tyrannosaurus rex and its youngsters
For some reason, I subscribe to Wildlife Fact Files. The cards are fine and
well-put when it comes to living species, but the extinct ones! (Gag!) The
card for Tyrannosaurus rex, which has illustrations that are outdated by more
than 4 decades, includes a rather prejudicial stereotype:
>> One close relative of T. rex is the crocodile, which shows some parental
care. Like the crocodile, T. rex laid eggs, probably in a hole in the ground
dug out with its hind feet. Unlike the crocodile, however, it is doubtful
that it showed any parental care. T. rex was such a fierce predator that it
seems more likely that it would have been cannibalistic toward its young. <<
How bad can you get? That is such a load of crock. All predators are fierce
-- they have to be to kill their prey and survive. Just because an animal is
predatory has nothing to do with how well it takes care of its young. Humans
are rather terrible creatures, but we, usually, take very good care of our
young. Many fierce predators take care of their youngsters, including
mammals and birds, and crocodilians always see to it that their eggs hatch
and that the surviving youngsters get to shore (REAL bad parents!).
IMHO, Tyrannosaurs were some of the greatest parents in the Cretaceous.
Maybe even better parents than the herbivores.
A Tyrannosaurus wouldn't be cannibalistic towards its OWN young. But a male
that wasn't the father had damn good reasons to kill the youngsters -- he
must spread his genes, and killing the other male's youngsters eliminates
another generation of his genes passing down. Cannibalism can make perfect
evolutionary sense to some carnivores.
Should we write to Wildlife Fact-File and complain? That's a BAD stereotype
Raptor RKC (Rachel Clark)