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Re: Harris' Hawks and Cheetahs

dannj@alphalink.com.au (Dan) wrote:
If Deinonychus regularly got killed when they tackled a Tenontosaurus, then 
you'd think it wasn't something they did very often. Lions will occasionally 
attack Cape buffalo if they are desperate enough, and sometimes get killed in 
the process, but buffalo don't constitute their main prey species. We could be 
seeing extremes of behaviour fossilised here, rather than the norm.
Alternatively, you could ask why these Deinonychus / Tenontosaurus sites get 
fossilised in the first place. Could the Deinonychus have been feeding on 
animals trapped in mud during a long dry spell, when water holes began to dry 
up? The Deinonychus themselves could have been trapped and killed as well - 
either scavenging dead Tenontosaurus, reluctantly killing trapped but still 
living animals, or simply going after the same thing that drew the herbivores, 
the dwindling water supply.
There are so many scenarios that could lead to similar fossil situations that 
untangling palaeo-behaviour can be next to impossible. Just look at the various 
interpretations made of archaeological remains. Grand stories can be built on 
the flimsiest of evidence (and if an artefact has no immediately obvious 
practical use, it must be a ceremonial item!)

Funny thing is, I was waiting for someone to respond to what I wrote so that I 
could say the same stuff you just replied with :-)  I completely agree with 
you. Along these lines, what is the taphonomy of these sites? Is there any 
evidence of drought (as in your hypothetical situation) or other such stresses 
that could have driven the *Deinonychus* to such an extreme as to tackle adult 
tenontosaurs??? (That is if the sites are preserving the result of an attack 
situation to begin with.)