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Re: Theropod eating and attacking

In a message dated 97-08-29 03:15:52 EDT, you write:

> Can anyone think of reasons why such a useful and
>  easily digested resource is regurgitated by snakes? Here's a few
>  thoughts:
>  Eggs are broken inside the body cavity by muscular contractions and
>  small projections of the vertebrae in order to speed up the digestion
>  of the egg's contents. The broken egg shell is sharp in places
>  and probably not too comfortable moving around inside the gut. The
>  snake regurgitated the shell to remove the nasty sharp bits.
>       OR...
>  The snake wishes to eat more than one egg at a time, but the bulk of
>  a single intact egg is bad enough for its streamlined shape. It breaks
>  the eggs and regurgitates the shells, leaving room for more of those
>  energy-rich contents.
>       Any more suggestions?

Having seen the shows that demonstrate this behavior, i.e., the snake
regurgitating a mostly intact egg shell minus the contents, that supposition
two may best explain the behavior Perhaps the calcium requirement for this
particular species is not as high as in other more carnivorous snakes which
obtain Ca from the bone of their victims, therefore it does not posess the
digestive juices or enzymes necessary to break down egg shell material.
Similarly, this _could_ also be an evolved "safety mechanism" whereby
 because of the large volume of the shell ( now mostly air ) WRT that of the
snake's stomach would actually cause the snake to die of _malnutrition_
because failure to regurgitate would make the animal think it is full (i.e.
acquired enough other essential nutrients). Multiply this over the number of
eggs  it ususally ingests and you can easily see that there isn't enough
space in the snake's gut! 

But then, it could evolve the ability to *burp*...  :-)


Thomas R. Lipka
Paleontological/Geological Studies