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A few points to ponder...
Hi all. I've been lurking on this list for some time now, and I figured
I'd throw my two cents in. (sorry this is so long).
First off, let me just say that I don't have a degree in paleontology, or
zoology, or herpetology, or anything of the sort (I'm working on a degree
in computers), but I do have a life-long interest in dinosaurs and reptiles
of all kinds. As such, I have owned a number of reptiles and consider
myself somewhat of an amateur authority on them.
It seems to me that a lot of the recent speculation on dinosaurs and their
young are tend to be based on what we know of modern young birds. IMHO,
dinosaurs were not birds as such, neither were they reptiles per se, but
something in between.
I do believe that their young were probably more like reptiles as far as
behavior is concerned. Birds hatch as relatively helpless animals, and it
takes some time for them to develop. This would indeed prove inconvenient
for large ground dwelling dinosaurs. Most reptiles, OTOH, are completely
self sufficient at birth. A baby python will strike at anything near, and
is actually more aggressive than either parent. They have to be, in order
to protect themselves from predators (on a side note, John's quote of "Any
snake worth the title has a long, thin body. Why? So it can hide down
holes." is not quite true - snakes evolved their long bodies to house their
incredible digestive systems, not necessarily to hide in holes). Crocs are
the same way, though the young seem to prefer the "flight" concept as
opposed to the "fight" concept (though my croc was snapping at everything
and everyone just minutes after he was born!). Veranids as well are quite
aggressive at birth, and only mellow with age (and constant human contact).
As for the argument against dinosaurs simply abandoning their nests in the
face of predation, I offer this: a Savannah monitor lizard will ignore her
nest if confronted. If the temperature then drops appropriately, she will
mellow out, and then mate when it heats up. As long as she has an ample
food supply (and most veranids that I have seen or owned have little
trouble finding food), she will easily lay another clutch. After all,
egg-laying animals, from fish to reptiles to birds, almost always lay more
eggs than can possibly survive (hence the term "clutch" or "brood" as
opposed to "baby"). This, as we all know, gives a greater chance for one
to successfully grow to adulthood.
On another note, I can easily imagine an adult tyrannosaur quickly grabbing
her offspring (whether they be eggs or recently hatched) and holding them
in her mouth as she speeds away from danger. Modern crocs do this, and it
seems to work for them.
BTW, marine iguanas are somewhat omnivorous, and will not pass up a tasty
grub or two...
Sorry to be so long winded, but, well, thats me.
Sterling, Virginia, USA