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Re: The absurdity, the absurdity (was: Cooperating theropods?)
Larry Dunn wrote:
> Sankarah wrote:
> >The Tugrugeen fossil shows a Velociraptor who seriously miscalculated.
> >There's no way that could be the norm, because that fella was doomed
> >from the get-go.
> We have a preserved dromaeosaur in the midst of a prey event which
> neatly explains the use of the sickle claw.
A dinosaur getting chewed on by its prey! Yeah, it's a good use, if you
don't get your throat ripped out by your intractable victim.
> On the other hand, we have a hypothesis of hunting based on no solid
> evidence other than the size of the claw (a claw apparently demonstrated
> in use per above), and which requires a great deal of optimism and
Don't forget the most important point: lots and lots of Deinonychus
teeth and remains associated with Tenontosaurus skeletons.
> Why do you prefer the second hypothesis?
Because the former showed the predator getting his butt kicked by his
victim? Because the arguments advanced by Ostrom and others are
sensible and believable? Because of the tight association of predator
and prey remains? Take your pick.
> > That claw would be overkill on just about anything under a
> >quarter ton; you can *bite* anything smaller to death with no
> >problem, as shown by the innumerable other small therapods running
> You're presumably not proposing that the velociraptor could kill that
> protoceratops with it's jaws.
Uh, why not? If a tiger can kill an elephant all by its lonesome, a
Velociraptor should be able to take out a Protoceratops.
>If dromaeosaurs hunted animals roughly their size or smaller (clearly
>the most reasonable hypothesis),
Not if they hunted in packs. See dogs/wildebeest/zebra, wolves/bison,
tigers/elephants, lions/elephants/buffalo, etc.
>why wouldn't they use their hind claw to cut carotid arteries?
Uh, how would they maneuver into such a position? That would take some
extremely fancy footwork; I can't see it.
>Why not quickly slit the belly of a lizard or mammal before popping
>it in your mouth?
Why not just bite its head off and be done with it? Why invest in a big
ol' claw if you can pick up the lizard anyway? It's a waste of time and
> Sure, small dinosaurs and other smaller life forms got their share, but
> that doesn't exclude dromaeosaurs in any way from a share (just as a
> variety of animals feed on mice today).
Yeah, but big animals go for bigger food. Why? Because they can, and
because competing with snakes isn't worth the trouble (unless desperate,
a la wolves in summer).
> >As I've said, killing a Tenontosaurus wouldn't require much in the way
> >of cooperation. I jump, you jump. I jump, you jump. I jump, you
> >jump. Not very complex.
> You've left out many steps here.
> We have to get them all together without mutual antagonism (which, the
> evidence suggests, their brains seems to have been incapable of),
Incapable of mutual antagonism? I don't think so. Irregardless, you
don't need to be bright to tolerate others. Birds, fish, ants,
antelope, anything you care to think of; intelligence and tolerance are
not necessarily related.
>and hungry at the same time.
Uh, coordination? Daily cycles? Synchronization is ridiculously
> We have to get them to select the same animal, particulalry difficult in
> the case of herd prey.
Not really. One takes the lead and the others go with. Whoever goes
first selects the prey, and occasionally (or maybe often) things go
FUBAR because they trip one another up. As long as they're fed, it
doesn't matter how much they screw up.
> (You may reply that one just randomly picks an animal, and then others
> pile on, but that itself suggests that the first animal knows that
> others will assist it AND that the other animals know to assist the
> first animal).
Which can be done on instinct alone. Look for animal. Pick animal.
Attack animal. Follow others if they get around to picking one before
you. A fish has the neural wiring to make this work; old hat for dinos.
> We have to get them to attack the same animal in the shift pattern that
> you describe without interfering with each other (and, for that matter,
> without attacking each other).
No reason they would attack each other. Interfering? Sure, they'd
interfere. Who cares so long as the victim dies? We don't need
perfection, here, just lots of stab wounds.
>This requires that they each patiently wait out their particular role
>in the attack (attacking when the tenontosaur is lurching toward the
>deinonychus that just hopped off), watching what the others are doing.
No, it doesn't. It requires them avoiding the part with the teeth and
making sure they're not jumping on someone. IOW, stab prey, don't get
bit. No coordination required.
> All of this requires even a bit more cooperation than most mammalian
> pack hunters display, rather than less.
You're trying to make it excessively complicated. If you broke a lion
strategy down like this you'd wind up with ten times as many steps (who
does the killing bite? Who chases? Who ambushes? Who harasses? It'd
get really messy really fast).
> >But that aside, I seem to recall hearing that they might not have been
> >as dumb as previously assumed. Studies in birds today show that
> (snip of bird study)
> Even assuming that's true, the smartest theropods weren't much smarter
> than the dumbest birds. And even the smartest birds do not generally
> show much cooperation in feeding.
Uh, that may be because they're HERBIVORES! Or, at most, insectivores.
Most birds are not carnivorous! Talk about apples and oranges . . .
> >> Yes, and that's because their forelimbs are suited for it. Unlike
> >> those of Deinonychus.
> >I'm still not convinced. See GSP's rendition in D:tE.
> >Look at the picture and get back to me on this.
> Because an illustrator draws something does not make it so.
I never said it does. He show's it's possible, nothing more. You're
saying it's impossible. His painting refutes that claim splendidly.
> Greg Paul has also gone back and made the sauropods in his
> illustrations spiny because there's some purported evidence
> that *one* sauropod may have had spines.
For God's sake, Larry, look at the picture. It's not a damn sauropod,
it's a Tenontosaurus. A hadrosaur. Duck-billed dinosaur.
> See the archives of this list. Look for posts on the configuration of
> dromaeosaur forelimbs, particularly the limited range of their movement
> and their limited ability to grasp.
And note that (as nicely illustrated by the painting) they wouldn't need
a wide range of movement and wouldn't need to grasp at all for this to
work. They hook their claws (nicely curved, note) over a dorsal ridge
and hang on for a kick or two, then fall off and repeat.
> >Buffalo, bison, moose, elk, caribou, the occasional (brave) wildebeest.
> >Elephants. All but one big guys with horns. The last has tusks
> >instead. What do hadrosaurs have? Zip. They're just big, and not
> >very threatening.
> then, later,
> >T. had nothing whatsoever. No bite to speak of, no weaponry, not
> >even any hooves. Not even mass. That sucker *was* meat on the table.
> Until they crush your hindlimb or break some of your ribs or break your
> jaw or one of your forelimbs.
HOW?!? No hooves, no horns, no tusks, no trunk, no flexible tail, no
bite, nothing to crush with!
> The lioness dying of a broken jaw knows that the un-horned,
>"helpless" zebras are not "meat on the table" (and let's not
>mention speed as a defense here because sufficient speed would
>have *prevented* the injury).
Zebras don't need speed! They have *hooves!* Hooves are dangerous!
Very, very dangerous. They are animals with powerful limbs,
well-distributed weight, and hard, edged, pointy things on the end of
their feet. They are armed to the teeth. Tenontosaurs didn't have
hooves, couldn't kick with their rear limbs, and couldn't do much with
the forelimbs. Also note that if they could do anything with the
forelimbs, your jugular idea is right out, since anyone attacking from
the front would be swatted down a lot more easily than someone from the
> >>A lion whose jaw has been broken by a zebra was essentially killed
> >>by the zebra.
> > You're missing the point here; it's a given that injuries will take
> >the animal out of commission, but what I'm saying is that it's not
> >that easy to injure one in the first place.
> Predators are so careful to pick out their prey in the first place, and
> their success rates are so low due partly to unfavorable circumstances
> at the time of contact, because they are not made of steel.
Yeah, tell that to the cheetah who gets tossed by a wildebeest. Not
steel, maybe, but certainly sturdy.
>I'm sure you're not suggesting that predaors are generally reckless.
Of course not. I'm suggesting that they're not fragile little birds who
can't take a little punishment. They seek to minimize injury, but they
can take some rough handling because that's what they do. Prey animals
don't succumb easily most of the time; they get rolled on, trampled,
tossed, butted, kicked, and a variety of other things every time they go
out. They can hack it, make no mistake.
> >> The scenario you describe takes a lot more coordination than most
> >> *mammalian* predators employ!
> An aside here.
> "Uh" is an internet mechanism used to insinuate that you're trying to
> think of some way to tell this poor idiot how wrong he is without
> utterly crushing him. I've noticed that it's very popular with graduate
> students and other young adults (older folks will smile and remember a
> time when we had a little knowledge and thought we knew everything too!)
> . I suggest that you don't do it. Some of your future colleagues are
I'm quite sure. Note that you've done this yourself. In fact, note
that many prominant folks on this list do it often, for various
reasons. Note that lectures in the middle of discussions are similarly
> >mammals use lures, stealthy approaches, ambushes, decoys, precision
> >wounding, specific patterns of movement, and on again off again shifts
> >in their attacks. Unless you exclude all dogs, social cats, and hyenas
> >from "most *mammalian* predators" the scenario I describe doesn't even
> >come close to being coordinated. If you do exclude those animals,
> >what's left isn't social enough to count.
> Yes, different species of pack-hunting mammals each use *some* of these.
Lions and dogs use most of them, if not all. The deinonychus in my
scenario would use none.
> Lures (one animal drawing the attention of the tenontosaur while another
> hops on from the other side),
No, there are no lures in my scenario. They just jump on the side
without the head. There is zero need for coordination here.
>specific patterns of movement and on-again, off-again shifts (attacking on
>both flanks; in waves)
No. No waves, just random attacks. No on-again, off-again movement (by
which I meant taking shifts for pursuing animals, as evidenced by hyenas
and African hunting dogs).
>are some of these. Don't minimize the complexity of what you're proposing
There's nothing to minimize because there's nothing to it. You're
assumming this is planned somehow; what I'm proposing just isn't.
> >>Even assuming for the moment that the killer raptor rationale for
> >>the dromaeosaur/deinonychus site is correct, it seems that
> >>tenontosaurus was prefectly capable of defending itself.
> >Says who? Who says the Deinonychus killed weren't killed due to their
> >own ineptitude? The Tenontosaur doesn't get points if it killed them
> >by falling on them.
> Says most of the killer raptor enthusiasts.
I don't recall saying it.
>I am new to this hypothesis that the tenonotsaur, in its rush to die,
>fell on the three deinonychus.
That's the only one that makes sense to me, actually; how would the
Tenontosaurus kill them, anyway? Nibble them to death?
> Did it fall on all three at once or did it fall, get up, fall, get up,
> and fall, each time squishing a deinonychus?
Who knows? It was about 4-5 times the size of the dinos, so it could
have fallen on the ones hanging on one side at the time.
> >>Were there no lizards to eat? Smaller dinosaurs? Mammals? Seems
> >>rather fantastic to me.
> A two "Uh" message. I must be *really* dumb.
Larry, stick to the message at hand. Criticizing mannerisms and/or
grammar is much poorer etiquette than using "uh" in the first place.
> > they were grabbed by the myriad other small predators running
> >around. Particularly the really fast ones.
> They were? And smaller dinosaurs were likewise grabbed? Monitor
> lizards? Wolves regularly take smaller animals as well as large ones,
> and wolves are real pack hunters.
And lions don't, and they're real pack hunters. Your point? Wolves
also don't have much in the way of competition (which is why they do so
well in the U. S. and Canada; in Asia they're bullied incessantly by
wild dogs); coyotes, foxes, and sometimes bobcats/lynxes. Small prey is
abundant in NA at the moment, but that would likely not be the case with
a variety of species running around (as is the case in Africa, where the
social predators don't go for smaller prey nearly as much as their North
> >> Assuming these things, they presumably did what other small,
> >> not-very-bright predators did (and do) -- they hunted alone and ate
> >> things smaller than they were (large claws notwithstanding).
> >Kinda makes the claws pointless, wouldn't you say?
> Not at all. We have a fossilized feeding event that tells us a lot
> about this (see above).
What, the Velociraptor and the Protoceratops? The Protoceratops wasn't
smaller; IIRC, it was actually a bit larger than its attacker.
> >What is it that you have against a precocial pack predator?
> I have this thing against wild speculation employing a legion of
> mutually dependent, rather forced rationales.
Forced? I don't see how jumping onto a hadrosaur and stabbing it is
forced. You're making the concept much more elaborate than it needs to
be so I can see why you might think that, but if you look at what I'm
suggesting it's fairly simple. Certainly simpler than making a strategy
of attacking prey animals head on in an effort to get your claw into
>Dinosaurs are interesting enough without shoehorning them into
>the pelts of mammals.
And I haven't done that. If anything, you've shoehorned my explanations
into the pelts of mammalian equivalents. They don't mesh, despite your
> >>Hunting animals larger than you requires both intelligence and
> >>sophisticated hunting strategies.
> >Yes, now. We have no idea whether or not that's a law applicable to
> >all types of life. And why dont' pirahnas have any problems, eh? The
> >force of numbers strategy does work; we don't see it now because our
> >modern predators are stuck on large brains. Dinos might have made use
> >of it to good effect.
> And so Pirahna joined microbes, sharks, birds and ants in the group of
> animals instructing us about terrestrial pack predation.
No, just strategies involving bringing down prey by force of numbers.
> >> "Other options" should not include basically describing an animal
> >> starting with a tabula rosa because it has large claws on its hind
> >> legs.
> >It's not. It also includes analogues to modern predators (other than
> >cats and dogs, btw) and fossil finds.
> Which modern predators are these? Which fossil finds?
All the Tenontosaurus finds associated with Deinonychus teeth.
> >>an animal that sort of cooperates without cooperating,
> >Which is done so often in modern animals (most especially non-mammals)
> >it's truly staggering.
> Example? Let's stay with terrestrial vertebrates, please.
Just about ny large herbivore you care to name. Lots of smaller
herbivores as well. IF you want a big carnivore, cheetahs. They do not
coordinate. They trip one another up something fierce, and don't have
much to speak of in the way of teamwork.
> >>incidentally adopting (systematically!) an incredibly
> >>elaborate strategy-that's-not-a-strategy.
> >Incredibly elaborate? This is *not*, by any stretch of the
> >imagination, an elaborate strategy.
> See above for why it is.
See above for why it isn't. I'm talking about the strategy I described,
not the one you tried to make it into.
Look, this is going in circles and getting somewhat heated, so I suggest
we call it quits (or take it to private e-mail) before someone hunts us
down and shoots us.