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EGG EATING DOWNUNDA



John Bois argues that small mammals have eaten Cretaceous reptiles 
into extinction, yet thinks that Cainozoic reptiles would have avoided 
such predation. Ronald Orenstein wrote....

> However, terrestrial or semi-terrestrial crocodiles, though now
> extinct, survived well past the end of the Cretaceous (eg Quinkana
> from Australia).

In response, John Bois wrote...

> A well-respected hypothesis--that Australia is and has been relatively
> depauperate in large carnivorous mammals (Tim Flannery)--may       
> keep my hypothesis alive here.

This statement is now about 15 years out of date. Miocene, Pliocene 
and Pleistocene Australia was teeming with assorted thylacinids, 
thylacoleonids, dasyurids and omnivorous propleopline kangaroos... 
among others. The previously unappreciated diversity of Aussie 
marsupial predators has in fact been one of the greatest discoveries in 
Australian vert palaeo. Also, one could argue that Australia is as much 
'land of rodents' as 'land of marsupials': its murid invasion probably 
began before the Miocene and there is now a rich murid fossil record 
for the continent. I might also mention that bandicoots are 
omnivorous, sometimes eating eggs, and that they were far more 
diverse and abundant in the past than they are today (which is maybe 
correlated with the absence of small dasyurids prior to recent times).

In view of all these mammalian predators, many of which were quite 
likely able to eat eggs, why then has Australia also been home to more 
than 30 species of large lizard, many large and even gigantic snakes 
(including madtsoids - _Wonambi_ was stil around in the Pleistocene), 
an assortment of crocodiles, all of which nest on land, egg-laying 
monotremes and flightless birds?

John Bois' theory is as redundant and illogical now as it was when he 
first started discussing it four years or so ago. Give it up John!

"I am also flora"


DARREN NAISH 
PALAEOBIOLOGY RESEARCH GROUP
School of Earth, Environmental & Physical Sciences
UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Burnaby Building
Burnaby Road                           email: darren.naish@port.ac.uk
Portsmouth UK                          tel: 01703 446718
P01 3QL