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WHEN HERBIVORES KILL



'ZooLady' said..

>         Just a reminder.. almost all fights between males,
> dominant/subordinates, and the like, are *NOT* to the death. Claws and
> things are used for hunting, defense from predators, or just bluffing. This
> could be an advanced evolutionary behavior.. maybe the dinosaurs didn't
> learn soon enough? :)

I can't let this one go: even if you are referring to aggressive behaviour
between members of the same species (as I assume), your view is something of an
over-generalisation. OK, more often than not there is no death involved, but it
*does* happen. 

I am aware of lethal confrontations between adult crocs (both Nile [there is a
photo in the Merehurst Encyclopedia of a male Nile croc guarding the carcass of
another he has just killed] and Indopacific), between various big cats (it is
well known in lions and I have photos of male cheetah eating another one) and
even between herbivorous mammals including impala and deer (typically when
inexperienced subadult males challenge dominant herd members). Male kangaroos
and some pinnipeds occasionally die from the stress/injuries that result from
fights and fighting chickens (even when not fitted with razor blades) can kill
conspecifics. One very unusual case of a 'fight to the death': two _Mammuthus
columbi_ adults whose tusks got locked together in combat - both died (figured
in Lister and Bahn).

These observations can be extended to dinosaurs, some of which were probably as
mean to conspecifics as crocodiles or big cats. As Greg Paul says in PDOTW..
"Many a theropod would have lost its life to a member of its own species".

One last thing (with ref. to another post): hammerhead sharks. Sphyrnid
phylogenies (DNA based) published in 1994/5 concluded that the hammerheads with
the *biggest* hammers were the most primitive, and the trend was toward hammer
reduction! This is, needless to say, contrary to tradition.

"This ain't like dusting crops boy"

DARREN NAISH