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RE: Little skulls...



I think Jamie misunderstood my comment about the Ospreys when he said:

>   The necessity of swalling fish first would not
> decapitate the animals. Humans, I think, are the only
> lifeform that habitually decapitate their fish; (SNIP) I know of no   
such animal that regurgitates only _part_ of the animal, much less just   
the skull,<

The scenario I described did not involve the adult regurgitating food to   
the chicks.  As I stated, Osprey and other predatory birds (particularly   
fish eating birds) do regularly eat the heads of the fish before bringing   
the rest of the _uneaten_ fish to the nest for the hatchlings. I have   
also observed an Osprey removing (by eating) the head of an eel before   
bringing the rest of the uneaten eel to the nest. Removing the head of   
the prey assures that the prey is dead and therefore poses no danger to   
the hatchlings. What I intended to suggest was that presence of the two   
small skulls in the Oviraptor nest might indicate a similar behavior in   
the adult Oviraptor if the location of the skulls could be interpreted as   
stomach contents of the adult.

And I appreciate Jamie's comments about the location of the little skulls   
in the Oviraptor nest, but I'm not sure proximity to eggshell, by itself,   
rules out the possibility that the skulls were from the stomach (or the   
crop) of the adult--since things would tend to spill out at some point   
during decomposition.

The absence of any postcranial dromeosaurid material in the nest might   
also support the idea that the adult O ate the heads of the small   
dromeosaurs if another analogy to modern predatory birds is   
considered--the fact that adult Osprey regularly clean their nest of   
uneaten material and wastes from their chicks. If the Osprey nest I   
observed had been buried and fossilized after the adult cleaned its nest   
of the remains of the eel, the "fossil" would show the bones of the adult   
Osprey, its chicks and the skull of an eel.

Pat