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RE: Velociraptor v. Protoceratops?

> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> AM Yates
> Hi Guys.
> 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.


There are some problems I have with Osmolska's hypothesis.  For one, the
position of the hindlimbs of the Velociraptor.  The right leg is underneath
the main mass of the body of the Protoceratops, which would be an unusual
position for a scavenger to wind up in (although watching our cats roll
around with toys they are playing with, you never know...  Of course, my
cats' toys typically do not outweigh the cats!).

It is the left foot, though, which I find most unlikely for a scavenger, as
the claw of digit II is extremely close to the vertebral column.  Presumably
it was within the flesh of the ornithischian: this position makes sense if
the dromaeosaurid was trying to kill the Protoceratops, but would seem very
unlikely if the Velociraptor was simply trying to feed on a carcass.
Similarly, the position of the right forearm of the Velociraptor within the
beak of the Protoceratops seems unlikely if the latter were already dead.

In addition to Osmolska's article, the following papers and abstracts give
scenarios for the fightin' dinos specimens:
Barsbold, R. 1974. [Dueling dinosaurs.] Priroda 2: 81-83 [in Russian]
        The two guys were fighting in water, and both were sucked into a swamp 
lake bottom.  Hard to reconcile with the lithology...

Carpenter, K. 2001. Evidence of predatory behavior by carnivorous dinosaurs.
Gaia 15: 135-144.
        The two guys were actively fighting, and the Protoceratops dies first 
its wounds, trapping the Velociraptor underneath the body.  They are buried
later, but not before the Proto. is scavenged.

Unwin, D.M., Perle, A. & Trueman, C. 1995. Protoceratops and Velociraptor
preserved in association: evidence for predatory behavior in dromaeosaurid
dinosaurs? JVP 15 (suppl. to 3): 57A.
        The two were fighting and trapped in a sanddune.

Ah, a good murder mystery (or is it a murder)...

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
                College Park, MD  20742
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796