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Re: T.rex Predation and/or scavenging



On Wed, 10 Sep 1997 22:44:27 -0500 (CDT) Kevin James Dracon
<jconrad@lib.drury.edu> writes:
>>On Wed, 10 Sep 1997, Matthew Troutman wrote:
>>  
>>  Why would a scavenger evolve such a large head? It doesn't make 
>sense 
>> that a scavenger should have such a cranium. I mean look at it. Its 
>one 
>> of the biggest things I have ever seen. It provides lots of room for 
>
>> muscles and lots of bracing for the teeth. You look at the front of 
>the 
>> T.rex skull and it stares back at you.
>>[snip] 
>>  WMattTroutman  
>> 
>
>I fully agree with you that _T._rex_ was undoubtably both hunter and
>scavenger (as are almost all modern flesh-eaters).  However, the 
>evidence
>presented above has holes,{snip} 
 The head could be so large because it had to gulp down carrion
>before another rex came along and stole it away.  The large jaw 
>muscles
>might have been an adaptation to deal with bones (when a carcass had 
>been
>picked over by the original predator and there was little else left).

"deal with bones" in what way?  Crushing? From other discussions on this
list, T. rex's teeth were not adapted for bone crushing, per se.  Look at
a hyena's teeth, which are adapted specifically to crush bone and extract
marrow.  The shape of T. rex's teeth are no where near the right shape. 
Maybe T. rex could snap bones into smaller pieces and just swallow, but I
can't see those teeth being able to crush bones.

A large head allows you to bolt lots of meat into your body and then
transport it anywhere to regurgitate for your young, or process it later.
 A scavenger lives in a "feast or famine" environment, and should be
adapted to gorge on any carcass because they don't know where or when the
next meal will be.  Vultures have to be careful they don't eat so much
they can't fly, or else they are vulnerable to predators.  T. rex didn't
have to worry about that.  

Maybe he was built large to be efficient in covering lots of ground, so
he could either find carcasses to scavenge or hunt down prey by ambush. 
It seems T. rex has adaptations to do both hunting and scavenging, and
since hunting and scavenging are lifestyles that share many adaptations I
don't think we can ever conclude T. rex was predominantly a hunter or a
scavenger.  Like any good survivor, T. rex was an opportunist and did
whatever came easiest in that particular situation.

Judy Molnar
Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
vlmed@juno.com
jamolnar@juno.com
All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.