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RE: Seasonal "Day Care" Hypothesis for Maiasaura

"However, although most of the herd would then migrate to distant feeding areas, it seems reasonable to me that some small number would stay behind to guard the site against egg robbers (at least minimize the damage they might do). The numbers of "guards" would not have to be very large, and couldn't be too large as to overgraze the area in a time of scarcity (and if necessary they could work in shifts to graze in areas further away).

Criticism welcome, Ken Kinman"

I've been meaning to reply to this for a while - forgive me if you've all moved on.

I would think the number of guards could be no less than half of the herd because animals don't tend to give a damn about individuals that they don't share huge amounts of genetic material with. Unless there was some sort of reciprocal altruism going on, only the parents of a clutch would bother protecting it. I could be wrong, but in most birds, doesn't at least one parent stay with the eggs while the other goes off to eat? Granted, incubation is an issue, but guarding against predators was also very important. I can't find my copy of Robert Trivers' Social Evolution to pull out any dazzlers, but I recommend giving it a look with regard to this thread.

Carl Mehling
National Center for Science Literacy, Education and Technology
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West @79th Street
New York, N.Y. 10024
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