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Re: Theropods/pterosaurs -- pollinators?



 
-----Original Message-----
From: StephanPickering@cs.com <StephanPickering@cs.com>
To: dinosaur@usc.edu <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Date: Sunday, May 19, 2002 11:20 AM
Subject: Theropods/pterosaurs -- pollinators?

   With the growing number of feathered theropods, and the questions precipitated about size and diets, it is interesting to consider if the small taxa, and similarly-sized pterosaurs in the heavily canopied rainforests and broad-leaved evergreen woodlands, were pollinators. They could, as well, have been competing for nutrients in nectar with the flying social (and not-so-social) insects. A small, hungry theropod (say, roughly crow-sized) would eat  the insects and nectar if other prey was not readily available.
    A book, which should be in the library of all dinosaur students, is:
    Lars Chittka & J.D. Thomson, eds., 2001. Cognitive ecology of pollinators: animal behavior and floral evolution (Cambridge University Press), 344pp.
If my theorizing is correct, then pterosaurs could not have been pollinators. It seems to me that pterosaurs were "top heavy", and therefor clumsy at landings. I believe they were probably restricted to landing on flexible cycad or palm branches rather than the more stiff gymnosperm and angiosperm variety. I don`t think they could make a precise landing on a stiff branch, as a bird (with well developed acrocoracoid process) could. A bird could hover, and break its fall just before landing. Though some pterosaurs (the anurognathids) might have fed upon flying insects, I doubt that they nested in flowering trees.
Another point of contention is that there may not have been any insect eating pterosaurs by the end of the Cretaceous (perhaps outcompeted by birds?). If there were, one might have expected to see some survive past the K-T boundary, as many small insect-eating forms seem to have done.