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Re: a little background

On Sat, Mar 16, 2002 at 10:45:51AM +1100, Dann Pigdon sent:
> Michael Habib wrote:
> > I also find it unlikely that an animal with as much firepower per unit
> > size as Velociraptor or Deinonychus would be a small-game hunter.
> > Despite the light build of the jaw weaponry, it would be more than
> > sufficient to kill small mammals and reptiles.
> Have you ever tried to corner a wild cat? They have way more "fire
> power" than required to take down the average bird or mouse. It is,
> however, good for defence against others of its own species, or larger
> predators.

Mouse, yes, bird, depends on the bird -- cats have trouble with birds
their own size.  A ten pound cat won't tackle a ten pound chicken.  Nor
will a ten pound cat tackle a ten pound rabbit, as a rule.

> In Australia, we have birds known as Willy Wag Tails that are about
> the size of a swallow. They successfully use intimidation to ward off
> much larger birds (especially nest robbers like magpies). Magpie Larks
> also have an instinctual hatred of magpies, and will attack these much
> larger birds at every opportunity. Dromaeosaurs don't seem to have
> been the fastest runners. Perhaps the dromaeosaur armoury was intended
> to intimidate larger, perhaps faster running predators.

I can't see how you'd get significant display benefit from the
initial stages of modifying the second toe, where it _would_ be a simple
escalator if used for predation.

If predation was bad enough that it was energetically worth it to modify
their locomotor system as a weapon, I would more expect extinction.

graydon@dsl.ca   |  Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre,
                 |  mod sceal þe mare þe ure maegen lytlað.
                 |   -- Beorhtwold, "The Battle of Maldon"