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Re: Little skulls...



Pat Norton wrote:

<I've read some speculation that the immature
dromeosaur skulls found a few years ago in the nest of
an Oviraptor may be the remains of food brought by the
adult O for its young. I thought about that again this
summer as I watched a pair of Osprey catch fish to
feed their young. I noticed that the Osprey always ate
the head of the fish before bringing it to the nest.
I've since been told this is a common behaviour among
carnivorous birds and that they probably do it to
ensure that the prey does not pose a danger to the
chicks, either by biting them or thrashing about.>

  The nessecity of swalling fish first would not
decapitate the animals. Humans, I think, are the only
lifeform that habitually decapitate their fish; others
adapted to eating fish swallow the animals whole. The
point is, fish going down backwards have all sorts of
things that could lodge in the throat, such as fins,
and scales, and rigid barbels, etc., so it's rather a
good idea to swallow head first, where nothing really
pokes back.

<I don't know the precise location of these little
skulls in the nest relative to the adult O, but I'm
curious if they could represent the stomach contents
of the adult--who may have eaten the heads of the prey
the way Ospreys and other birds do today.>

  Norell; Clark; Dashzeveg; Barsbold; Chiappe;
  Davidson; McKenna; Perle; Novacek. 1994. A theropod
  dinosaur embryo and the affinities of the Flaming
  Cliffs dinosaur eggs. _Science_ 266: 779-782.

  The two skulls (both with snouts, partial orbits,
lower jaws, and one (not pictured in several articles
describing the find) with a partial braincase) were
found associated with the broken fragments of eggs
next to the fragment preserving the embryo. Norell et
al. state that the skulls demonstrate a degree of
ossification comparable to the ovi embryo, suggesting
these were either hatchlings or embryos. I wouldn't be
too surprised if it was the latter, secured from
dromie nests by the indelible egg-cracking device that
is the ovi head. However, I know of no such animal
that regurgitates only _part_ of the animal, much less
just the skull, so the relatively bony head may have
been severed from the fleshier body for consumption
reasons prior to "feeding time."


=====
Jaime "James" A. Headden

"Come the path that leads us to our fortune."

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