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Re: ptero-"vampires" (doubtful?)



Matti,
    I'm no expert on oxpeckers, but I don't think they "specialize" in
picking at sores and ingesting their host's blood.  I would think they would
wear out their welcome real fast if they did that all the time.
     But the thought did occur to me that a pterosaur-"oxpecker" with sharp
upper "incisors" could evolve into a vampire-bat kind of niche (a surgical
scrape and lap up the blood).  I presume dinosaurs had areas on their bodies
where the hide was relatively thin.  I wouldn't give ptero-vampires a very
high probability of evolving, but seems like it might be just as probable as
ptero-hawks.
    I would think ticks and other skin parasites would have also targeted
"thinner-skinned" areas of dinosaurs.  Doesn't that sound really
appetizing??   Picking off blood-engorged ticks from a dinosaur's ass??
            YUMMY!!!!,
                 ------Ken
P.S.  Have their been speculations on what kind of "tongues" pterosaurs
might have had.  Is a pterosaur "tongue" lapping up blood probable or
improbable?
********************************************************
From: "Matti Aumala" <mjaumala@nettilinja.fi>
Reply-To: mjaumala@nettilinja.fi
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Subject: Re: ptero-"oxpeckers"??
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2001 20:34:55 +0300

>       Has anyone ever suggested the possibility of an oxpecker-like
> pterosaur, eating insects off the backs of dinosaurs?
>       I can easily imagine that dinosaurs would have welcomed
oxpecker-like
> birds cleaning their skin of parasites, but I wonder if an
insectivorous
> pterosaur might have ever evolved to fill a similar niche.  Wouldn't
> procumbent teeth work well for feeding on skin parasites?  Just a
thought.

This is a bit off-topic, but actually oxpeckers aren't all that
beneficial to big mammals. Recently they have been observed both
opening old wounds and actually pecking new ones on the backs of the
animals to drink their blood. They don't seem to be all that
interested in the skin parasites, but are parasites themselves! AFAIK
there are birds that really are symbiotic parasite-pickers, but
oxpeckers don't seem to be a good example of such birds.

What comes to pterosaurs, they could have evolved into either the
oxpecker or the symbiotic parasite-eater niche, though true
"dinopeckers" would have had a lot harder time trying to pierce the
thick scaly hide...

--
Matti Aumala
mjaumala@nettilinja.fi


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