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Re: tyrannosaurs and phorusracids (was reply to:Large theropod body.



At 12:20 PM 5/21/97 +0000, Pieter Depuydt wrote:
>I would like to add my thought of two pennies worth.
>Tyrannosaurs in general body configuration are quite similar to those 
>other famous coelurosaurs, the Phorusracids, except for the absence 
>of a long tail in the latter: very large and powerful 
>head, quite long and muscular neck, strong and trim hindlimbs with 
>respectable claws, dimunitive forearms.

Agreed.

>Is it reasonable to suspect they also hunted in a similar way?

I suspect so.

>(as 
>described in a 1994 Scientific American article about Phorusracids 
>(Marshall, Scientific American February 1994) i.e. 
>stealty approaching potential prey in dense undergrowth, dashing 
>forward and stunning prey animal with side blow/kick of hind feet (or 
>alternatively bumping into it with gape wide open) (perhaps shaking 
>smaller animals to death: uh..oh.. haven't I read that in Jack 
>Horner's 'The Complete T Rex?).

Whoa!!  And I thought *I* got carried away with my predatory technique
scenarios...

Since we do not have living phorusrhacids to examine while hunting, the
above scenario is speculation.  We do NOT know that phorusrhacids hunted
that way: it might be quite likely, but we do not have any more direct
evidence (less, even) of their predatory techniques than of those of
tyrannosaurs.

>Phorusracids preyed upon mammals 
>smaller than themselves which they swallowed whole (all according to 
>Marshall's publication);

Again, whoa!  Based on what?  Are there specimens on which this hypothesis
is based?  I would not be surprised if phorusrhacids could attack mammals of
around their own size, given those tremendous skulls they had.  However, we
do not have (to my knowledge) direct evidence of this.

>perhaps tyrannosaurids also preferred smaller prey, such as hadrosaur 
>juveniles...

Just to remind people, there IS documented evidence that tyrannosaurs did
attack living adult hadrosaurids: the Denver Museum of Natural History
Edmontosaurus has a bite mark of the proper size, shape, and position to
have come from a T. rex (the only known predator of the appropriate size and
shape in the vicinity).  As the wound healed (somewhat), the attack was
unsuccessful, but it does indicate that at least one Tyrannosaurus attacked
a living, adult Edmontosaurus at least once in the history of these two genera.

(You can see this specimen at the museum, or featured in the documentary
"The Ultimate Guide to T. rex").

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661