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With reference to the idea from a Paleoworld show that Troodon ate mainly
mammals (actually, I first saw this idea in print in Adrian Desmond's
_The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs_, published in the 1970's, although I don't
think it was Desmond's hypothesis), Ken Sharman wrote:
>The scriptwriters were playing with the thought of this intelligent
>animal hunting mainly small mammals...[snip]...Am I totally out in left
>field, or would it seem more probable that Troodon would hunt whatever
>came its way (within reason, of course), more like an opportunistic
To which Tom Holtz responded (8/2/96; 11:19a):
>The sickle-claw of troodontids...[snip]...might be useful againts
>larger prey than small mammals.
I am impressed by how delicately-boned ("gracile") Troodon is. In
addition, the specimens (OK--the illustrations) I have seen have a claw
on one finger that is as large as the biggest claw (the supposed killing
claw) on the feet.
From these observations I concluded that Troodon was not built like an
animal that would tackle large prey. Are there any active predators
today with rather delicate, elongated, ostrich-like legs/feet that tackle
large prey? Sounds risky to me. Also, it seems that Troodon would have
been just as "deadly" with its hands as its feet--sort of like
kick-boxers. Perhaps they used both their feet and hands for
intraspecific combat (Cretaceous cock fights!), as well as for attacking
prey. If so, the size/shape of their claws may not be correlative solely
with attributes of their prey.
Finally, I don't think you have to be especially intelligent to hunt
mammals (as per Paleoworld's and Adrian Desmond's suggestions). Snakes
and crocodilians eat mammals. Granted the predatory style of Troodon
must have been different from snakes and crocodiles. But exactly what
was its predatory style? Was it gracile, with good stereoscopic vision,
to be quick and pounce with precision, so it could catch small mammals
scurrying about? I don't know. Perhaps it's more of a challenge to
catch a lizard than to catch a mouse.
Norman R. King tel: (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences fax: (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org