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Re: Dive! Dive! Dive!
Just to restate a point I made in the last crashing dino wars:
Whether a T-Rex would have bounced, skipped, rolled, or exploded
on a fall doesn't really matter when determining if T-Rex was a
high speed predator.
All that matters is if the number of deaths through falls was
exceeded by the net gain of animals netted/offspring produced
through high speed pursuit.
Of course, this doesn't promise high speed chases. It would
probably behoove cheetahs to sprint at 120MPH if a few nasty
aspects of physics and physiology didn't interfer.
If T-Rex's construction permitted high speed, and the rewards
of high speed outwieghed the risks, then it probably took
the occassional sprint. There are many animals which engage
in occassionally fatal behavior. Orangutans crash to the ground.
Looking at a fossil of similar sized apes, it would be easy to say
"they would never have frequented the high canopy, as a fall would
be fatal." But if that risky behavior is advantageous 99.9% of
the time, it will continue to be part of the repertoire.
One additional note on T-Rex: While it's height certainly would
contribute to higher velocities on impact, it would also serve
as an advantage in fall recovery. Tall people are harder to
trip than short people, as it takes longer to move their body
weight beyond the critical balance point (I invite you to
experiment on your colleagues). Towering T-Rex, with a body already
designed for balance, may well have been able to recover from
almost any stumble.
Falls may have been fatal. But extremely rare fatal falls need
not rule out a fast running predator.
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