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Re: Suchomimus tenerensis

Jamie, Caleb, et al:

    I think that Jamie's idea of a seasonal diet variation works best with
the structures that we can see on _Suchomimus_.  The skull and jaws are so
much like the ghavial (with the previously noted exceptions of the exact eye
and nostril placements), that this beast had to eat fish at least part of
the time.  As with most predators, they are good scavengers, given the
opportunity (Humans are DEFINITELY included as predators/scanvengers!!!).

    Grizzly bears (I know someone has pointed out the problems with the use
of bears as a model for this dinosaur's behavior) are large omnivores, who
eat a lot of fish when the fish are easily accessible.  The fact that they
eat lots and lots of other things probably has kept them from developing the
long crocodillian-style jaws/snout.  {Pure speculation!!!]  (Humans provide
a lot of food for bears - mainly in the form of our leftovers/trash -
occasionally in the form of their own bodies).

    The similarities (of the skulll and jaws) to existing piscivourous
crocodillians seem to point us towards that as the main diet of
_Suchomimus_.  The arms and claws seem to be point us at other dietary
means, however.

    As an aside, the National Geographic website
(http://www.nationalgeographic.com/explorer/index.html) is great!  (You need
to go to the "Dinosaurs of the Sahara", and then click on WebCam.)  Note
that the exhibit seems to be heading out on the road after 11/29/1998
(12/10/1998 it opens at the Chicago Children's Museum).  I wonder if they'll
have webcam access there.  You can magnify to 12 times - close enough to
examine muscle scars (I think), and you can point to nearly every part of
the skeleton.  You can also point to a life-model of the animal, and a
full-size cut-away model of the claw.  Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!!!

    Allan Edels

-----Original Message-----
From: Jaime A. Headden <qilongia@yahoo.com>
To: dinosaur@usc.edu <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Cc: christianwarior7@hotmail.com <christianwarior7@hotmail.com>
Date: Sunday, November 22, 1998 3:17 AM
Subject: Re: Suchomimus tenerensis

>Caleb Lewis wrote:
><<<Well, that's a pretty big dinosaur to be eating fish. I mean, would
>a dinosaur that big have evolved to eat fish?>>>
>I wrote:
><<Comparison of the predator's size to the prey should not be held
>with too much weight. Take, for instance, the basking shark and baleen
>whales, whose prey are about a million times smaller then they are.>>
><I believe I know the whale you're talking about. And this whale has
>specialized filter-teeth to accomplish just this. It doesn't have
>powerful forearms, nasty claws, and a row of nasty teeth.>
>  Alligators and crocodiles do; of course, not to overestimate the
>comparison of a croc's arms to his head, but a huge rounded claw is
>not the usual terrestrial predator's weapon. Living big-game predators
>(cats, dogs and wolves, even bears on rare occasions (to my
>knowldedge), etc.) all have flat-bottomed or groove-bottomed claws.
>  I personally don't think that the claws were fish slappers as in
>bears, or even fish-hooks as the forearm is way to short to be
>impressive enough to keep using it, and not evolve longer arms for the
>task, which would be more effective in that activity, but hooks
>nonetheless: like Dann Pigdon suggested, the scavenging hook
>hypothesis is what seems to me a very good use. Tough, strong,
>durable, short arms means less movement with greater energy to pull
>some pretty heavy weight! To lift fish with arms that could
>conceivably lift everyone's favorite 400 lb. wrestler would perhaps be
>a little overkill, but not the idea of ripping some dead
>*Ouranosaurus* ribcage apart, either one it killed or is scavenging,
>just by tilting it's body down and getting those hooks in range. Clamp
>on, pull, and finito!
>  However, I caution you, Caleb, on dismissing the piscivore
>hyposthesis on basis of size, whereas the skull seems supremely
>adapted for fish. It would appear to me, immediately, that a
>multiple-animal diet, one of the dry season and one of the wet season
>in a temperate clime and time where it would not conceivably snow (am
>I wrong, anyone?), would seem the most parsimonious explanation for
>all the parts.
>Jaime A. Headden
>Qilong, the website, at:
>All comments and criticisms are welcome!
>Get your free @yahoo.com address at http://mail.yahoo.com