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How Did Hadrosaurs Survive? (Was: Hadrosaur "mummy" questions)



> Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 11:32:48 +1000
> From: Dann Pigdon <dannj@alphalink.com.au>
> 
> Since hadro's seem to lack any obvious means of defence (no horns or
> spikes), perhaps they were literally thick-skinned. An obvious
> advantage when being verbally abused by a ceratopian.  :)

Since it's been a bit quiet on here for the last few days, I may as
post my dumb question.  It's often bothered me that there seems to be
an ecological imbalance in those late-Cretaceous days: how on earth
did the hadrosaurs not _all_ get eaten by tyrannosaurs?  So far as we
understand the morphology and its implications, the predators were
faster, stronger and probably smarter than their prey: so what _could_
a poor hadrosaur do once a tyrannosaur had decided to eat it?

I tried to imagine an analogously unbalanced contemporary system, but
couldn't come up with one.  Looking at cheetahs and antelopes, which
was the closest I could come up with, you say that the predator is
faster, stronger and smarter than the prey, BUT because it's only
faster over short distances the antelope has great chance if it keeps
its eyes open -- which is why only a small proportion of attacks end
in kills.  But as I understand it, there's no reason to think a
hadrosaur could outdistance a tyrannosaur.

So what am I missing?

Is it just possible that the ecological setup could have been
something completely alien to what we see today?  How about this: when
a tyrannosaur wanted to eat a hadrosaur, it did; but they didn't eat
the babies, so the hadrosaur survival strategy _as species_ rather
than individuals was just to have lots of babies and be good parents
before getting eaten.  Yes, I freely admit that it's far-fetched, but
I just don't see how else there could be anything like an
predator-prey equilibrium.

Thanks, all.

 _/|_    _______________________________________________________________
/o ) \/  Mike Taylor   <mike@miketaylor.org.uk>   www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\  "There are three fundamental principles in Skiing; weight
         transferral, just fishing it, and nothing else" -- Harvey
         Thompson.