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Re: Definition of "scavenging"

At 09:48 AM 2/2/98 -0900, T.A. Curtis wrote:
>    I've been having thoughtful conversations with Nicholas (sorry; don't
>know your last name) about whether T. rex was a scavenger or not, and it
>occurred to me that part of the problem with our discussion is that we may
>not have the same definition of the word.
>    My definition is pretty broad.  I consider any animal that steals a
>kill away from another animal a scavenger.  In other words, when a lion
>takes a fresh kill away from a cheetah, isn't that a form of scavenging?

Scavenging is defined in ecology as feeding on flesh which the individual in
question did not kill.  Predation is feeding on flesh which the individual
in question did kill.

>   And isn't it more likely than not that a T. rex, using it's imposing
>size (and attitude), would steal kills from any smaller predator (including
>other T. rex's) at every possible opportunity?

Of course.

>    The theory that T. rex was a scavenger never meant that it was
>*exclusively* one, was it?  Surely this is impossible.

No, it was meant as such.  The hypothesis in question was an hypothesis of
*obligate* scavenging: that tyrannosaurids were incapable of killing prey.

Note that the primary advocate does not hold with strictly obligate
scavenging tyrannosaurids (or so I'm told), but the hypothesis itself is
what must be tested.  (And stop by DinoFest on, say, Sunday at 10:40 for
more information on such tests... :-).

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