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Re: Fwd: Deinosuchus and Tyrannosaurus

As with the previous message, the following was written by Paul
Willis, not me.  Please respond to him directly if you wish him to see
your reply.

Mickey Rowe     (mrowe@indiana.edu)

Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 19:46:12 +1100
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
From: pwillis@ozemail.com.au (Paul Willis)
Subject: Re: Fwd: Deinosuchus and Tyrannosaurus

Another one passed on by Mary while I was away.

>Interestingly I have always wondered at the exact function of
>crocodilian scutes. Obviously they are useful in avoiding damage
>from submerged logs and the like, and perhaps protect them from
>each other. Yet crocodilian scutes tend to concentrate on the top
>of the animal, leaving the underside soft and vulnerable (I have patted
>a crocodile and I can attest to their velvet-like bellies). I have often
>wondered whether the concentration of scutes on the top could perhaps
>have originated due to predation from above - ie. from much larger
>predators such as dinosaurs. The above mentioned JPEG image is just
>the sort of scenario I would imagine if this was the case.

The function of crocodile scutes is not entirely clear but, particularly in
earlier crocodiles, they seem to be important in the suspention of the body
while walking. This is the thesis of my colleague Dino Frey in Karlsruhe,
Germany. In more modern crocodiles, the development of ball-and-socket type
articulations between vertebrate (procoely) made the scutes partially
redundant in a support role and the primitive, strap-like scutes of earlier
crocs divide up into multiple rows of smaller, squarish scutes seen in
modern crocs. If anybody is interested in this stuff, I could fish out the
paper for you but, beware, it is in German (no words under 23 letters).



Dr Paul M.A. Willis
Consulting Vertebrate Palaeontologist
Quinkana Pty Ltd