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Re: triceratops question

On Mon, 7 Jul 1997 10:59:34 -0500 franczak@ntplx.net (Brian Franczak)
>Christopher Tingley wrote:
> It 
>also a mistake to use the *specific* behavior of an unrelated type of
>animal (in this case the musk ox, a mammal) to illustrate the behavior 
>an entirely different type of animal (dinosaurs). We can see some 
>for specific dinosaur behavior in fossils: they laid eggs, they took 
>of their young in the nest, they gathered together in groups... These 
>general types of behavior, though, and the only other type of 
>behaviors for
>dinosaurs that we might speculate about that make sense are the types 
>behaviors we can see in their living relatives, the crocodiles 
>ancestors) and the birds (dinosaur descendants). Dinosaurs did not 
>like mammals.

Since behavior does not fossilize directly, I disagree with your last 
sentence.  We don't know for sure how dinosaurs behaved.  If they filled
an ecological niche similar to that of certain mammals, then they may
have behaved like them.  They may not have.  Certain behaviors are
adaptive for certain situations and environments, and if mammals have
analogous situations and environments to those of the dinosaurs, then
mammal behavior can serve as legitimate examples.  In the case of
Triceratops, a musk oxen's behavior is a bad example.  But perhaps a
forest ungulate, like an okapi, would have behaviors more relevant.

By all means, check the more closely related forms for relevant behaviors
first.  But I see no reason to exclude mammals entirely as possibly using
[reinventing?] behaviors that were also adaptive for the dinosaurs.

Judy Molnar
Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.