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Michael wrote:
> Sun Tzu said he will win who waits to take the enemy unprepared.  He
> learned that from a dragon I think.

Smart man.  You can learn a lot about successful tactics by watching
predators hunt.

> > Granted that _Deinonychus_ looks like an agile, fast, active
> > animal, and granted that the hind-foot claw looks big and sharp and
> > nasty enough to shred anything made of flesh -- still, why would a
> > killing weapon be placed on the _hind_ foot when it had perfectly
> > serviceable jaws and forelimbs equipped with their own array of
> > customized cutlery?
> The better to eat you with said the Deinonychus.  Leopards disembowel prey
> with their hindclaws and they have very nice frontal weaponry.

The films I've seen of leopards hunting show them hanging on with
hindclaws (and foreclaws too) and killing with a bite to the windpipe or
occasionally to the spinal cord, precisely like other cats.  Cats'
killing weapons are their teeth, not their claws.  I think that's true
for almost all extant land and airborne predators: claws catch and
wound, but jaws kill.  Even hawks and other birds of prey usually kill
with the beak.  When you think about it, putting a killing weapon on the
foot makes very little sense (to me, at least). Feet have to be on the
ground most of the time, don't they?    

> Lions do not climb trees very often, but they do. They will climb
> trees to escape buffalo and to take a leopards kill(rare).  Standard defense
> against a hyena pack is to fight back.  Only when injured or
> overwhelmed and alone will a lion run from hyenas.  When they do they leave
> with their bottoms on the ground, turning often to strike at their
> tormentors who wisely stay out of the way.  If a lion is injured
> badly enough or crippled it can be killed but this does not often
> happen.  

Ever watched the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC film "Eternal Enemies: Lions and
Hyenas?"  Yes, hyenas attack lions, and yes, lions run from hyenas
rather than fighting.  Hyena-lion battles are common, and whichever side
has the highest total mass wins.  Four lionesses can match six or eight
hyenas, but when you have 10-20 hyenas against five lionesses, the
lionesses are going to lose.  So the lionesses run, or climb, to get
away.  I suspect that if you had two competing species of midsize
theropods, both hunting the same prey, you'd wind up with roughly the
same situation.  Fights over kills would be frequent, kill-stealing
would also be frequent, and both species would need some way to get away
when the battle goes against them.  Hyenas can run, lions can run or
climb -- what could a beleaguered _Velociraptor_ do?  

-- JSW