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RE: death pose

That IS interesting. I wonder what causes (-ed) the dinosaurs to go through such death "struggles." Also, how far back do we see such a pose in the fossil record? Dr. Carpenter mentioned seeing it in bipedal dinosaurs, but do we not also see the neck pulled back in some sauropod specimens, even?

Jordan Mallon

Undergraduate Student, Carleton University
Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoecology

Paleoart website: http://www.geocities.com/paleoportfolio/
AIM: jslice mallon

From: "Ken Carpenter" <Kcarpenter@dmns.org>
Reply-To: Kcarpenter@dmns.org
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>, <vrtpaleo@usc.edu>
Subject: death pose
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 20:52:54 -0700

I had the most interesting conversation with an ostrich rancher and his wife regarding death poses in the ostrich. Standard dogma, which I had long accepted as true, is that the head and neck pulled back and legs drawn against the body pose of bipedal dinosaurs (especially theropods) due to drying of the nuchal ligaments. I had thought about testing this hypothesis with fresh killed birds, but just never got around to doing it. In fact, I don't think anyone has tested this hypothesis. It as been assumed that drying of the nuchal ligament was the cause.

This ostrich rancher and his wife have both said that they have sat with a dying ostrich several times. Every time, as the bird nears death it will crouch, legs pulled against the body, and slowly pull its neck back in the "classic" deasth pose of dinosaurs. When it finally dies, it remains in this pose and rigor mortis soon sets in and locks it there. I questioned him about several points of this (being somewhat skeptical), yet the photograph does verify this. It may very well be then, that the so-called death pose in dinosaurs is not due to drying of ligaments, but a natural phenomenon - a pre-death form of rigor mortis.


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