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Re: Mammals preying on giant azhdarchid pterosaurs!

John Bois wrote:

>>> Dinosaurs are extinct becuase mammals eat their eggs???? This theory  has 
> more holes than  Swiss Cheese.

I don't believe you've demonstrated a single hole, in this post at least.<<

Regardless of whether holes were demonstrated in that particular post or not, 
the idea that egg-eating Maestrichtian mammals played any signifcant role in 
the extinction of dinosaurs and pterosaurs is a fairly untenable proposition, 
for a number of reasons.

Perhaps the most notable is the coexistence of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and 
mammals for something like 100 million years. It certainly seems unlikely 
that mammals posed no large-scale threat to dinosaurs until the Latest 
Cretaceous, when, you suggest, they somehow, suddenly, engaged in a 
world-wide egg-devouring binge.

Surely, many mammals species throughout the Mesozoic probably fed of 
archosaurian eggs, both as opportunists and specialists, but they probably 
weren't alone. Lizards, other dinosaurs, snakes, and so on, all would have 
also eaten their eggs, just as the eggs of birds and reptiles are fed upon by 
so many species today. 

And then there's the obvious problem posed by the fact that dinosaurs are 
only a small (if somewhat dramatic) portion of the fauna and flora affected 
by the K/T extinction. We're looking at an event that decimated a huge 
portion of the world's zooplankton; it would seem we need a culprit somewhat 
more profound than egg-eating mammals.

But, most importantly, your hypothesis, that egg-eating mammals may have 
played an important role in dinosaur extinction, would be a pretty difficult 
thing to evaluate. At this stage, what would qualify as evidence? How could 
it conceivably ever be falsified? What sort of "proof" might be gathered to 
support the hypothesis, even indirectly? I don't think anyone's going to 
argue with your proposal that Maestrichtian mammals were eating dinosaurs 
eggs. I certainly wouldn't. It seems a likely (though unproven) proposition. 
But it would be *very* difficult, if not impossible, to take the idea any 
farther than that.

By contrast, years and years ago, when Dale Russell and others suggested an 
extraterrestrial agent behind the K/T extinction, they provided us with an 
hypothesis that was, at least, testable. And, whether or not an impact *was* 
solely responsible, subsequent researchers *have* found a lot of evidence 
that indicates a cataclysmic event or series of events at the end of the 
Cretaceous, and that search began in earnest with the forumlation of a 
*testable* hypothesis. One which could be falsified, for which direct 
evidence could be gathered, and that exhibits others characteristics of a 
healthy hypothesis, such as fecundity.

The idea that dinsoaurs lost out to mammals is already an out-dated, failed 
explanation for the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs. Let it rest in peace.

Caitlin R. Kiernan