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Re: Killer Pterosaurs?
Kind of a typhoid ptery!
(Running and ducking!)
Interspecific disease carriers are not unknown. There is a non-human
reserve of Ebola hiding somewhere in nature, bird flu jumping to
humans, AIDS coming from primates etc. Viral and bacterial pandemics
often effect groups similar organisms and something that could
effectively decimate only the dinosaurs is certainly plausible but
would be virtually unprovable. Rarely is a disease so fatal that it
completely wipes out the host species because the combination of
needing an effective reserve of the pandemic agent to survive requires
some of the reservoir to survive. There is no advantage to a disease
organism to completely wipe out all of it's victims since it would then
be wiped out too. The concept of a food chain problem is likely in
such a situation. Diseased dying animals being eaten by scavengers who
in turn also pass the disease around the ecosystem. Imagine a
hemoragic virus being passed by body fluids from victim to
opportunistic feeder if you will. I don't know why you picked
peterosaurs in particular except they might get around (so to speak).
I would think that to be widely effective, the pathogen would have to
be spread by physical contact (as by feeding on) or by contamination of
water sources and lastly by air borne vector transmission. This would
make the common prey animals a more likely source of a widespread
plague which would then go across the species barrier. Like the bird
flu going to humans because of the close contact of the food source. I
suppose it could go the other way but there would be no way for such an
event to be preserved in the fossil record. Sounds like good science
fiction to me. I remain firmly in the corner of thinking a combination
of events led to the demise of dinosaurs as a group.
PS, Regarding the funds to study Antonio, the check from England has
not cleared the system as of today (Friday which makes 11 days since it
was deposited). It probably has something to do with homeland security
On Jul 8, 2005, at 8:55 PM, T. Michael Keesey wrote:
Birds were more common than pterosaurs in the Maastrichtian.
Well, okay, the sample size is not terribly large--but that's how it
seems so far.
On 7/8/05, Dinosaur World <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I'm doing some advanced work for a video project and would like your
opinions on the following.
If I proposed a theory that Pterosaurs were a carrier of, and had
to, a disease that was fatal to dinosaurs, and this disease played a
role in the extinction of dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous. Could you
please give me your opinions as to the plausibility of such an idea?
you find it implausible, could you please tell me why.
I realize that fossilized evidence of disease is rare, and so there
be much evidence for support or nonsupport of such a theory, but I was
hoping you could give me your personal opinions on this.