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Re: Triceratops defence

On Wed, 16 Jun 1999, Dann Pigdon wrote:
> Have you ever tried to find elephants in the wild? Well, no, I
> haven't either, but for such large animals they can be extremely hard 
> to spot in well wooded areas. Being quiet and well camoflauged can
> go a long way towards making even very large animals difficult to
> find.

This is true for sure.  And forest elephants veritably melt into the
jungle.  But I think we are talking about a quantum difference in this
strategies effectiveness for triceratops at nesting time and elephants at
any time.  That is, if it layed eggs and guarded them, the triceratops
must stay in _one_ location.  Much egg predation (or predation of
nesting parents) in extant species is
incidental--it depends upon likelyhood of accidental discovery rather than
active foraging.  Bigger things are _a priori_ easier to find than small
things.  And, the more vegetation, the more predators (as a pretty good
rule of thumb).  Once found, the large animal would be at a decided
disadvantage even against smaller predators.  Since only one large egg
layer today uses wooded concealment (cassowary) it is difficult to
demonstarte this.  However, take the following for what its worth.  Tank
manuals implore their drivers to not go into heavily wooded forest because
they are then vulnerable to single soldiers hiding in the woods.  Von
Clauzowitz (sp?) the famed military tactition, adivized commanders that if
thy had to take up defensive positions that the forest would be a bad
place because the trees prevent knowledge of what your enemy is doing.  In
other words, your reactions must be delayed because you can't see what you
are reacting to.  And, finally, was it Einstein who said: "Big things
might bump their heads on branches."
If I were big and pointy, like a triceratops, I would prefer to defend my
nest on the plain, thank you very much.