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Re: Predator relationships

Michael wrote:
> > But what about _Acinonyx_pardinensis_, as well as
> > _Miracinonyx_inexpectatus_ and _M._trumani_?  _A._pardinensus_ was
> > unquestionable a cheetah, but was half again as large as the modern
> > cheetah; estimates are that it could run as fast or faster than the
> > modern form.  The same holds with the _Miracinonyx_ species.  Prey
> > species would be abundant in Africa, but competition with lions and
> > hyenas might be a much stronger mitigating factor; it's hard for those
> > guys to grab tommys, after all, so that may be the only prey animal the
> > cheetah can get away with grabbing on a regular basis.
> Don't know.  I'll try to see if anyone knows.  Cheetahs now occupy a
> certain niche.  They cannot compete for larger prey nor with the
> other competitors.  I haven't studied the playing field 20-2mya.
> They are likely remnants of a large worldwide population that evolved
> before modern felids and were basically supplanted by them.  Those
> left may be pockets of small gene pools.

That's an interesting possibility.  It's certainly plausible that
African cheetahs were limited bythe presenceof other, more successful
large game predators.  However, we have to keep in mind that
contemporaries of these other predators also existed in Europe and North
America, which makes their influence questionable given the success of
cheetahs in these areas.  As with most questions, need more data.

> > > Leopards operate differently.  I don't know why male
> > > leopards are so much larger unless it is male-male competition and
> > > testosterone.  I'll have to find out. >
> >
> > Sexual dimorphism seems to be the norm among cats; male lions are easily
> > twice as large as females, and then we have leopards and so on.
> > Cheetahs are the aberration, as usual.
> Yes, but I don't know why for sure except to apply lion strategies.
> There the males protect the females territory against other males and
> provide protection at kills primarily against hyena.  This may not
> apply as much to other felids, but may have to earlier forms.  Again,
> I'll have to look into it further.

I hadn't heard the bit about protecting the females from hyenas at
kills; good to see the males are actually useful.  :)  That wouldn't
apply to other felids, as you say, so the cause of the general
dimorphism is a bit of a mystery.  Need more data.  <Sigh>
 It might just be a case of sexual selection.