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Re: Jurassic Park 4: Electric Boogaloo



On Friday, February 11, 2005, at 03:00  AM, Vorompatra@aol.com wrote:

In a message dated 2/9/05 6:09:05 PM Eastern Standard Time,
ajgrant@eastlink.ca writes:

<< I'm truthfully getting sick of the solo vs pack-hunting talks. Pack
hunting has NOTHING to do with intelligence. It has to do with the environment &
food availability which are both intertwined. If there's enough food to
consistently support a pack, that's most likely how they will live. If the prey
population density is low, the predator should be solitary, ie. lions vs tigers.



"NOTHING to do with intelligence"? This seems a little sweeping.

It shouldn't. Besides the obvious observation of tigers vs lions, there's also numerous insects. Or you could observe plants.


Leaving aside, if I may, the idea that a pack might constitute too dense a predator population to be supported by "slim pickins" (in which case, the pack COULD not survive, but probably wouldn't have formed in the first place)
Precisely.

Why would it be more likely that a pack will form, based on the availability of food, unless there are other factors at play? It seems to me there are enough counterexamples (among tetrapods, anyway) that test this "rule:" cheetahs in Africa share the environment & food supply with lions;
No they don't. Cheetahs typically inhabit areas where there's cover from other predators, as most lions will kill cheetahs on-site. Lions, on the other hand, will usually take to the more open plains, where there is a larger concentration of larger prey species. AFAIK, cheetahs don't attack and kill wildebeest & zebra, which lions are quite good at. Cheetahs typically hunt smaller, less dangerous gazelle and retreat with it if they can FROM the open to avoid larger predators.

New World cougars have plenty of prey, but don't form packs (as far as I know).
Prey of what size? Are you referring to rodents? I have NO problem eating a cheeseburger(or a double cheeseburger, for that matter) by myself, but I'll more than happily share a pizza with friends. But then again, that depends on the size of the pizza. If the pizza's a 6", I'd rather keep it to myself. If I had a larger one I wouldn't see a trade-off in my personal nourishment and friend/group/pack nourishment. See what I'm getting at yet?

Is a dearth of prey the reason tigers, leopards, jaguars, bears, and foxes tend to be solitary, or is it more likely that that's what their ancestors did & it works just fine?
That's very hard to know. None of use were around for it. Various predators will tolerate each other and work together at limited times of the year when there is a mutual benefit, although the rest of the time they are highly territorial. One could reason that if the gain from working together became more common for longer intervals, it would became habitual eventually. Also, if siblings were fortunate enough to survive together and had developed a method of group hunting that was beneficial enough given prey availability, they could teach it to their respective offspring.

Wolves form packs that cooperate in the hunt, as do lions. They don't just go after the prey en masse, side-by-side - they take up positions, drive their quarry to fellow predators, relieve one another when a chaser gets tired, etc. Surely this involves higher social intelligence which tigers and other loners don't need.
Any member of the Homo sapiens should be especially careful whenever they speak of the intelligence of other creatures. Imagine how intelligent we would look to another race observing the actions of a smokers, given the life-shortening effects for a trade-off of relieving mental stress.
The predators you mention exhibit teamwork. How much intelligence does it really take to know when another individual is tired and you have a better shot because you're closer? People make jokes all the time about sports players being dumb as a proverbial post, even though they excel in their sport on a team. . As a I said before, plants even follow this code. Look at the population density of plant life in the desert, where there isn't as readily a supply of food as a rainforest, where there is an undoubtedly a much higher food availability. When there's plenty to go around you have more condensed populations that can afford to share the food supply. When there's not, there's not.