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Re: Vegavis gen. nov. - new anseriform in today's Nature

On Wed, 26 Jan 2005, Dann Pigdon wrote:

> And yet emus are more abundant than ever. Of course, humans have been
> kind enough to reduce dingo numbers in grazing areas (the same areas
> emus love).

Emu populations are higher on the dingo-less side of the fence--whether
from reduced predation or increased food.  Another factor I have read is
the artesian water wells--for cattle--but also enjoyed by emus.

> I don't know if dingos are able to actually get into an emu
> egg,

I also haven't been able to establish this.  I suppose it's only me that
finds this an appalling lack of knowledge.
Why are we funding space research when we still don't know whether
dingos can crack eggs.

>...but they'd certainly have a go at hatchlings and probably even
> adult birds.

I know of one study of an enclosed state park...the park includes
dingos...the emus suffered total reproductive collapse...adults
unaffected...no surviving hatchlings.

> As far as dromornithids were concerned, they had megalanids and
> thylacoleos to contend with (the latter could be larger than a leopard),
> and who knows how many diprotodontid species weren't afraid to raid the
> occasional nest for added nutrients - expecially given the low quality
> of Australian soils in general.

I believe there is fossils evidence that dromornithids nested in similar
loactions as emus...i.e., arid grasslands.  Dromornithids were probably
adapted to aridity.  In other words, fewer predators at nesting sites.  In
any case, emus follow a similar nesting strategy to ostriches...trying to
lose themselves in space.