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Re: Tyrannosaurid Growth Spurts

From: Christopher Taylor <ck.taylor@auckland.ac.nz>
Reply-To: ck.taylor@auckland.ac.nz
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
CC: john.bass@ntlworld.com
Subject: Re: Tyrannosaurid Growth Spurts
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004 10:32:25 +1200

Are any modern flightless birds carnivorous (in the sense of eating
large prey)? Kiwis and probably steamer ducks are
small-invertebrate-ivorous, emus and ostriches will eat pretty much anything
that can fit down their throats (up to, and including, rocks), but I don't
think any of them eat anything that they can't swallow in one gulp. Weka
might be willing to tackle relatively larger things (such as rats), but
still nothing anywhere near body size.
Amongst the reluctant fliers ("I prefer to walk, thank you"), I think
secretary birds and bustards tackle small vertebrates only. Amongst
competent fliers but also competent walkers, marabous and adjutants might
scavenge big animals, but live prey is again, strictly small.
So all the big predatory flightless birds appear to be dead. Mene, mene,
tekel upharsin...


        Christopher Taylor

You might be interested to know that the kea can act as a particular carnivore in the sense of taking quite large prey. It has been recorded (and I have actually seen footage of them doing it) that they take young petrels out of their burrows and kill and eat them. They are roughly two-thirds their own size and certainly can't be swallowed whole. In captivity,they've killed and eaten weka as well wich are at about their own size.
The fact psittaciiforms as a rule don't swallow food items whole might have been important in the evolution of this aspect of kea behaviour.
Of course keas aren't flightless but they might be interesting as they are quite terrestrial.

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