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Re: The Cretaceous Middle-East



< Jaime A. Headden wrote:
I'm going to jump on this one a little. :)>

<<Pygmy species would abound, and they would evolve
ceratin characteristics to better utilize their
environment, but would their evolution lead towards
the truly bizarre? (I know, what is bizarre to a human
may not be so bizarre for a dinosaur that has survived
in a small refuge in Yemen...)>>

>  First, maybe I should point out that both _then_ and
now, the Arabian sub-continent was rather large, and
bigger than most countries of Europe and certainly
much bigger than nearly every recognized environment
that produced dwarfed forms. Dwarfism in fossils only
occurs if the originals were particularly large, so
you may have dwarf sauropods (e.g., *Malawisaurus*,
*Magyarosaurus*) but you wouldn't neccessarily have
dwarfed *Ornitholestes.* On the other hand, take
*Raphus* (a didiculine pigeon) and *Geochelone*
(including a Cuban form related to the Galapagos forms
and some Indopacific forms?), giant representatives of
their relative clans, and developing on relatively
more restricted habitats than Arabia.

Okay, but I was operating under the assumption that this was a small, secluded 
community within Yemen, not neccessarily the whole sub-continent!

<<Besides, to make these dinosaurs really recognizable
to the general public, they would have to evolve along
fairly "normal" lines: pygmy tyrannosaurs, with tiny
forelimbs ending in two tiny claws, huge head in
comparison with the rest of the body, etc;>>

<  Everyone wants tyrannosaurs, I can't imagine why. I
would start with smaller aublysodontine forms, rather
than tyrannosaurine forms, anyway.... :)>

Huh? No tyrannosaurs? Would the general public buy it? Sorry, my museum 
experience is showing... : o

<<pygmy ceratopians, with (perhaps) more frills,
shorter horns (less likely to entangle in the smaller,
cramped environment);>>

<  Not in modern Arabia, they wouldn't. Even forms in
relatively forested areas, such as the Judithian and
Edmontonian ceratopsians of Montana and Alberta do not
have relative reductions in the size of the horns,
even the smaller ones like *Chasmosaurus* or
*Anchiceratops.*>

Got it - I'm still new at this whole gig! ;)

<<pygmy duckbills, with crests that are less ornate,
but can be applied to a more defensive use;>>

<  *Tsintaosaurus* with a reinforced impaling spike?>

Maybe make a great marketing toy - the back crest could be made to open bottles 
of Tsintao beer?

<<pygmy troodonts, with bigger eyes, two grasping hands
and, following recent fantasizing, their own language
and simple tools. Who knows?>>

<  Wouldn't be neccesary, these fellows max at around 6
feet already, most quite small and delicate. A _giant_
troodonts (upwards of 10 to 15 feet) would be more
impressive, and insular environments would breed these
to some degree. Besides, studies in rthe
communications between crows and use of tools by them
and other corvine passerine birds have been carried
out, and circus-exemplified African grey macaws may be
the smartest of birds with delicate tool-use and
problems solving skills that goes beyond crows. Just
adapt.

  For excellent speculation, Dougal Dixon is a must,
as Darren Naish could tell you, and Greg Bear stepped
away from the all-consuming need to have tyrannosaurs
by, and wait for it ... making up his own dinosaurs,
including a 25-foot tall phorusrhacid.... :)>

I wonder if the "all-consuming need" is a bad thing - by having a lure ("Ooh, a 
T rex, mommy!"), and by adding other families, some knowledge could be 
transmitted more easily. As an example, look at Dinosaur from this past 
sping/summer movie season: no T rex, but many kids who saw the artwork before 
the movie thought the carnotaurs were good old tyrannosaurs; then they saw that 
these dinos weren't the old favorite, and Disney then used some lesser-known 
dinos (Pachyrhinosaurus? Mixing with Iguanodon? No T rex? At least the toys 
included some "evil raptors"!) in the mix. I hoped that this effort would at 
least introduce the general public to the idea that there were MANY different 
kinds of dinos, not just the old favorites (T rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, 
Apatosaurus, etc).

How about introducing some dwarf sauropods into the environment? I figured that 
this miniature refuge would have to be at least somewhat arboreal (to hide it 
from watching eyes above...), and these could be the browsers - but did they 
last to the end of the Cretaceous?

Brent : )

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