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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 ...
> 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?

Well, it is scavenging.  it is also scavenging when they eat something that
died in a flood or of old age, even if they do not have to chase any other
predator away.  (Scavenging is defined as eating something that one was not
involved in killing).

The problem with saying that any animal that scavenges is a scavenger is
that virtually *all* predators will scavenge if given the opportunity.  (I
have heard it said that some snakes and some mustellids will refuse dead
meat, but I am not sure I believe it).

So, being a large flesh eater, *of* *course* T. rex would scavenge at least
*some* of the time.

But the usual definition of scavenger is an animal that derives almost all
of its sustenance by scavenging.  This is to make the distinction between
scavenger and carnivore clear an meaningful.
>
>   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?

Well, yes, and eat anything else it wanted.

The real issue in the debate is whether it regularly attacked and killed
prey animals.
>
>    The theory that T. rex was a scavenger never meant that it was
>*exclusively* one, was it?

That is basically what Horner claims, yes.

>  Surely this is impossible.

I tend to think so, but other disagree.

>  Conceding that
>point, then, why is there such resisitance to the theory that it 
>was? Every animal will take food from a smaller one if given a 
>chance.
>
A word that applies to all animals ceases to have much meaning.

--------------
May the peace of God be with you.         sarima@ix.netcom.com
                                          sfriesen@netlock.com