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Velociraptor v. Protoceratops?
Our e-mail systems been down for a week and I can see from the archives
there's been alsorts of interesting threads.
Firstly I'd like run a scenario past the list that would plausibly
explain the "fighting" velociraptor and Protoceratops specimens.
Everyone assumes that the deaths were simultaneous. An important paper
to read on this subject is Osmolska, H. 1993. in Revue de Paleobiologie,
special volume no. 7 pp. 161-162. In it she gives good evidence that the
Protoceratops was long dead before the Velociraptor came along. Most
importantly the Protoceratops has got no arms! (shades of the Black
Knight from Monty Python!). Erosion cannot be responsible because if
they were present prior to fossilisation they would have been in the
area where the well-preserved hindlimbs of Velociraptor lie articulated
and undisturbed. Furthermore the delicate edges of the Protoceratops
scapulocoracoids (which are displaced) are not eroded or damaged.
Osmolska suggests that the vertically oriented Protoceratops had becomed
mired (there are other protoceratops skeletons preserved like this in
this locality. Scavenging animals came along (they were either lighter
or the sediment was drier) and removed the forearms. The Velociraptor
came up for a feast and then died for some unexplained reason.
This last part sounds rather implausible unless of course it was a
sediment laden flash flood that engulfed and killed the feeding
Velociraptor. I have a slightly different idea. The Protoceratops was an
old dried up and scavenged carcass that was half sticking out of the
ground it had become mired in after a sand/water slide/flow event. Then
a second such event occurred. This happened to have swept up our hapless
Velociraptor. The poor animal was just clinging to the only solid object
it could while the current was pushing it downstream. It was successfull
but was unfortuneately overwhelmed by the sediment load as the flood
slowed (flash floods can be dense sediment laden slurries that
"freeze" as the velocity drops). This expains the vertical nature of the
Protoceratops and the horizontal nature of the Velociraptor.