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Re: Vestigial Arms (was: Theropod limbs - how mobile?)



David Marjanovic wrote:
>... I think the effectivity of this big bite depends on where it is placed. 
>When the 
> tyrannosaur only gets hold of the end of the tail, a big bite in this place 
> isn't good 
> for much. Holding it and biting again elsewhere could secure a meal..

You're assuming tyrannosaurs hunted alone. Grabbing a hadrosaur by the
tail would be a safe way for one tyrannosaur to immobilise it enough for
another to dispatch it quickly. Especially if it's a large adult doing
the holding, and younger more agile animals doing the actual killing (as
has been suggested by others in the past). The large animal uses its
weight, but avoids anything too dangerous that could result in a nasty
fall. The smaller animals can kill the larger prey with much less risk
of being injured themselves. It's win-win.

Often extant large predators (lions, wolves, etc) will attack the hind
quarters of a large prey item, in an attempt to immobilise it. Wolves
will rip into the back of the thigh muscles and area around the anus of
a bison. Lions will cling to the hind quarters of a Cape buffalo to
either weigh it down so it can't move, or to do damage to the thigh
muscles with their claws (they'll even try to bite the area around the
base of the tail). By immobilising large and potentially dangerous prey,
predators can pick it off at their leisure. Even if they fail to do
enough damage to the leg muscles, they can still tire the prey out
enough so that it still can't excape quickly.

Perhaps tyrannosaur-induced damage of hadrosaur tails was the result of
a failed kill, where the hadrosaur managed to excape before the 'rex
could take a piece out of the thigh or calf muscle to immobilise it. I
imagine the 'rex mumbling as its dinner escapes: "Missed it by 'that
much'!"

-- 
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Dann Pigdon                   Australian Dinosaurs:
GIS, Archaeologist          http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.alphalink.com.au/~dannj/
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