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Re: Dromeosaurid behavior........Pack hunting! (long)

At 12:16 AM 4/29/99 -0700, Joe Cooley wrote:

>>In a message dated 4/28/99 6:54:20 PM EST, gderkits@lucent.com writes:
>><< Presumably the Deinonychus were
>> killed by the Tenontosaurus during their attack on it. >>
>>Why couldn't they have been killed fighting over the carcass? Just
>Principle of Uniformitarianism.  This means what is happening now happened
>way back when too.  Since pack hunting goes on now, it seems relatively safe
>to assume that it occurred back in the Mesozoic as well.

Yikes!!!  No!  Flag called on account of misue of the Principle of

(That principle is normally used in conjunction with geologic processes, and
not biological ones, anyway).

It is NOT safe to assume that all behaviors found in the modern world were
present in earlier times.  Heck, you could then argue "domestication occurs
in the Holocene, therefor Late Cretaceous coelurosaurs domesticated Late K
Asian protot-ungulates".

For complex behaviors, or behaviors currently restricted to a single clade,
you cannot just assume they were present at any earlier time.  If you are
proposing unusual (derived or complex) behaviors for some fossil form, you
should back it up with some sort of testable or supporting evidence
(morphological structures which correlate with that behavoir; phylogenetic
bracketing; good old fashioned taphomony (can't be beat!); etc.).

>Also fighting over
>food is a waste of energy.  Especially when a carcass the size of a
>Tenotosaur most likely could have fed quite a few Deinonychus.

Ummm..., I suggest you watch footage of carnivores at a kill site.
Squabbling is quite common, and in some taxa (Komodo dragons, for instance)
very serious wounds can be inflicted as a result.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:tholtz@geol.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661