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Re: Questioms from James Carey?

BRIEF REPLY: Yes, I agree, that compared with the
extant roadrunner, Microraptor gui, is slightly larger
at 770 mm. For me, however, the fundamental curiosity
remains about its ecomorphologies. The faunistic
regions containing these taxa appear concentrated,
unless I am misreading the paleobotanical evidence, in
wet evergreen forests (yes, I realize there is some
measure of disagreement as to if "rainforests" existed
then, so I avoid the appellation). To be discerned is
the adaptations of these dinosaurs in old-growth
forests. Because it is very unlikely these small
dinosaurs were feeding on live, considerably larger
taxa (swarm behaviour strategies -- e.g., 20
Microraptors attacking a hadrosaur -- could have been
possible, eating on dead carcasses makes sense), one
has to consider an aggregate diet of insects, fruit,
nectar, very small vertebrates,
cannibalism/infanticide during brood reduction.
Frugivory in Microraptor would enable seed dispersal
of zoochorous trees already being foraged on sauropods
etc. In lowland areas, it is similarly probable
wind-dispersion was a factor along with dinosaur
consumption. Different stages of stand development
within these forests > different modes of dinosaur
food locating influenced by confounding of
successional stages. In mid-successional areas (cf.
the submontane forests of Philippines), there would be
a high number of forage trees for dinosaurs, these
being regenerating, older stands of trees for
frugivory (and insectivory etc.). For dinosaurs with
large foraging ranges, regenerating stands would be
more accessible than dense, old-growth forests, and
these multiple-use buffer zones (to borrow from a
recent botanist's analysis of these types of areas)
would be a likely place where Microraptors would be
plentiful (newer trees = new fruit + insects + small
squamates in greater number than old-growth areas).
There is, of course, the possiblity Microraptors and
other comparably small flying dinosaurs may have, like
fruit bats, also hunted rigorously in
early-successional species, or in small fruit-rich
trees in understory layers of old-growth plots (I
think it is here where pterosaurs' feeding strategies
may have been analogous).  Larger dinosaurs (e.g., a
sauropod or ceratopsian) may have preferred old-growth
The ecological implications are interesting: tree
evolution during this period would have been perilous
if the frugivore visitation rates were low. Late
successional trees would be, in fact, more
specialized, as there could have been regions of
forest where there were only a very small number of
seed predators or fruit thieves, relying for seed
dispersal, I would think,on a combination of wind and
pterosaurs (some extant trees rely on 2 species of
dinosaurs in the Philippines for seed dispersal).
--- Teoslola <bkazmer39@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Hi,
> Pickering said:
> > > -- the new Microraptor is 770 mm long -- to be
> able to kill (tell me, Jaime: was such a small adult
> a
> voracious hunter capable to extinguishing a bus-size
> hadrosaur in a single bound?). <<
> I was actually surprised at how large it was...
> bigger
> than a modern day Roadrunner at around 550 mm long.
> (The M. gui is a bit over 30" to the Roadrunner's
> 22".) 
> Barry
> =====
> Barry S. Kazmer
> 407 5th Ave. N.E.
> Saint Cloud, MN USA 56304
> http://pliosaur.freeservers.com
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