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Re: MESOZOIC MARINE HERBIVORY non-dino stuff



On Mon, 25 Nov 1996, Darren Naish wrote:

> Before I go into the body of this message - Nick, you keep mentioning 
> flightless
> bats on New Zealand. Can you (1) tell me where you heard this, and (2) confirm
> that you have not confused 'flightless bats' with the ground-adapted
> mystacinids? Thanks.

        I have found the source of my error. Diamond's article in the 
Oct. '90 issue of Natural History being my original source (a very good 
article I should mention, if anyone is interested in a good overview of 
pre- _Homo_ NZ animals) and he mentions in one part bats that roll up 
their wings and run- i.e. the mystacinids. Although he specifies them as 
ground-living, he doesn't (as I assumed when I read the article first and 
ever since) refer to them as flightless at any point. Sorry about that. 

> Whole skeletons have been retrieved from Bering Island at least, and
> I gather that remains are fairly abundant. Of course, we rely on the
> observations of Steller and others as to the behaviour and life
> appearance of these animals. They were probably hunted by
> aboriginals, but I'm not aware of any real evidence for it (probably
> out there though).

        Well, that's pretty cool. I hadn't heard that they'd found any. 
Bering Island wasn't mentioned as being inhabited by anyone in the 
account I read, and perhaps this was one reason they survived there. From 
what I've heard, the Alaska natives were very good at hunting sea otters 
(under  Russian slavery they took thousands of pelts) and seals, but they 
also had huge slate lances which I have been told would be driven into the 
base of the whale's tail flukes to shatter (there is also supposition 
that monkshood, a.k.a. aconite, which has a deadly neurotoxin, was used on 
the whales) and incapacitate the beast. Supposition: a Steller's sea cow 
would have been a giant, floating New York Steak to these people. 

> radiation of (also kelp-eating) desmostylians in the cold north Pacific

        Now, that's a new one for for me. 

> gone in grazing.. let's just hope (via time travel of course) we can
> look at the south-eastern Pacific in 10 million years, when a
> diversity of giant marine iguanians will flourish
> (neomosasaurs). Perhaps.

        :) I'd pay to see that. The bit about going in an herbivore seems to 
make a lot of sense. Makes you wonder why something 
like aetosaurs couldn't have taken up a sea-cow like life, either... 
        Maybe if we took a look at the diversity of sea life that has 
existed ( the Triassic seems to be just teeming with bizarre reptiles) we 
could find a marine herbivore...