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RE: Documentaries & Sabertooths



As to your questions:

1)      I'm not sure if any animal was specifically adapted for
shellfish eating.  However, plesiosaurs are often depicted eating
ammonites.  There are many ammonite specimens with holes in them that
seem to correspond to plesiosaur teeth (and their jaws - based on
positioning of the holes).

2)      As to planktonic feeders, I believe that at least one
ichthyosaur is thought to be some sort of filter-feeder - and at least
one pterosaur (_Pterodaustro_) is also thought to filter-feed (much like
a flamingo).

3)      As to Larry Martin - I wasn't sure if the saber cat expert was
the same as the one who sides with Feduccia - so I checked.  Yes, it is
one and the same person.  Remember that, although a great many of us
disagree with his and Feduccia's conclusions (and in some instances, the
lack of the correct application of modern science), they are scientists.
Feduccia, I believe, is an ornithologist; and Martin is a vertebrate
paleontologist.  Of the two, Martin has recently shown the most
likeliness towards believing that birds are descended from dinosaurs (or
BCF - as a nod to George and Greg, and others).  Bear in mind that we
should argue against mistakes in the science, not against the people.
(I know that sometimes it can be frustrating).

Allan Edels 

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu] On Behalf
Of Dino Rampage
Sent: Friday, July 19, 2002 2:36 PM
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Documentaries & Sabertooths

Just watched several documentaries on prehistoric animals: (Thank God
for 
cable TV!!)

National Geographic's Dinosaurs: INside and Out was very. very boring, 
nothing new, and in fact for a seasoned dino nut like me, all I got was 
another retelling of dinosaur history. No mention of really good
discoveries 
like feathered dinosaurs, Paluxy River tracks, Sue & all the other
wonderful 
finds post- 1994!! And some really, really bad CGI animation!!

Jurassic Shark was very, very good, although their Carcharodon megalodon

seemed a little fake. Very good & realistic resotrations of prehhistoric

sharks though, and many intricate details about modern elasmobranchs.
But 
where was Cretoxyrhina???

Sabertooth was also another good documentary, detailing the debates 
surrounding Smilodon fatalis. Also showed a very ingenious experiment: 
Reconstructing a mechanical Smilodon head and testing it on a dead bison
to 
see if a stab to the belly or jugular was more effective. The verdict? 
Smilodon went for the jugular. (Is this accepted by most?) Some pretty 
impressive animation as well, depicting Smilodon chasing a herd of bison

(sadly modern Bison bison, and not Bison latifrons), and another short
scene 
showing the horror of a baby Columbian mammoth as it met its ancient 
nemesis.

Just watched the first episode of Walking With Beasts on TV (Man, the 
documentaries marrive real slowly here in Singapore) I can only say that
it 
rocks! (Well, at least the first episode so far) A few points though:
The 
Godinotia sound too much like chimps, and the forest animals are way too

noisy!! Gastornis screaming, Godinotia hooting, Propaleotherium grunting
and 
Ambulocetus roaring... Leptictidium seemed strangely mute amidst all
this 
cacophony. Can't wait for the Basilosaurus episode next week.

BTW, here's a chance to slot in some more questions:

I just realised one thing: In the Mesozoic there were two ecological
niches 
that were absent:

Are there any records of Mesozoic animals adapted for eating shellfish? 
Placodonts from the Triassic and the weird mosasaur Globidens fit the
bill, 
but what about the periods in between?

And what about plankton feeders? Besides the enigmatic fish
Leedsichthys, I 
can't seem to find any plankton filterers like todays, mantas, whale & 
basking sharks & baleen whales. Were plankton levels so low in the
Mesozoic 
they couldn't support giants like these? It seems that the biggest
animals 
in the seas of the Mesozoic were always predators (eg. Shonisaurus, 
Liopleurodon, Kronosaurus, Tylosaurus, Brachauchenius, Elasmosaurus, 
Mosasaurus etc etc)


Is the Larry Martin, the so-called sabertooth expert, the same Larry
Martin 
who sides with Alan Feduccia and maintains that birds are not dinosaurs?
If 
they are the same person, this puts a whole new perspective to my
impression 
of this guy. I like him when he talks about sabertooths, but when it
comes 
to birds, I just seethe inside...

And is there any new evidence for pride behaviour in Smilodon or any of
the 
sabertooth cats? It would seem odd for so many social hunters in
Pleistocene 
North America: American lions, dire wolves, grey wolves, the semisocial 
coyotes, the possible brotherhood alliances of American cheetahs, plus
the 
Smilodon & Homotherium (not to mention that intermediate sabertooth) It 
seems astonishing to see so much large predator diversity on the
continent. 
Not just the above-mentioned, but also the terror-bird Titanis,
Teratornis 
and cathartid vultures, short-faced, brown & black bears, jaguars,
mountain 
lion, ocelot, jaguarundi, bobcat, lynx, wolverine, were there hyenas in 
Pleistocene North America?? I can just imagine La Brea being the
Pleistocene 
Serngeti, with vast herds of camels, horses, pronghorn & bison, with
bighorn 
sheep in the uplands, deer hiding in the cover, moose and woodland
caribou 
further up North, and sloths, glyptodonts, columbian mammoth & mastodon 
ranging everywhere. Pains my heart everytime I think that all thee were
gone 
so recently...

And what forms of different prey would Homotherium & Smilodon have
hunted? 
With their different body form, maybe they partitioned the prey. At
least 
one of them must have gone after mammoths from time to time.

And while we're still at sabertooths (besides dinosaurs, mosasaurs & 
pterosaurs, nothing mkaes me more excited than sabertooths), what
species 
were still around when Homo sapiens first appeared? I can only think of 
Smilodon fatalis, S. populator, Megantereon & Homotherium. Anything else
and 
does anyone ahve a complete list of sabertooth species, their body form 
(dirk-toothed? scimitar-toothed?) and the age & distribution. Thanks


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