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Re: T rex bites your bum

Komodos have a natural immunity to the toxins in their saliva. Some of the big drug companies are looking into how this happens to find new sources of anti-biotics.


----- Original Message ----- From: "Phil Bigelow" <bigelowp@juno.com>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 5:21 AM
Subject: Re: T rex bites your bum

I hope I'm not perpetuating another urban myth by stating this, but I've
read that human bites often create more serious infections in people than
do dog bites.

If true, then it suggests that many oral bacteria are relatively safe,
provided that they don't get injected into the lymphatic system or into
the blood stream.  The proportions of oral bacterial species probably
varies greatly between vertebrate taxa.  _T. rex_ saliva may have been
more lethal to other _T. rexes_ than it was to _T. rex's_ prey.

One of the many ideas in paleontology that can't be tested.


On Mon, 23 May 2005 06:17:27 -0700 (PDT) don ohmes <d_ohmes@yahoo.com>
Doesn't the toxicity of Komodo bite depend in part on
who they are biting? In that reptiles are not as
strongly affected as mammals for obvious evolutionary
reasons? If a Komodo bit itself, would it die?

Or do Bakker et al postulate a suite of bacteria that
T.rex was immune to, yet strongly affected T. rex

I've observed crotolids feeding in the wild, and I
agree that a following strategy would not benefit
Komodos over the time/distances involved. To
extrapolate to dinos seems a huge stretch...

--- Phil Bigelow <bigelowp@juno.com> wrote:
> On Sun, 22 May 2005 22:08:17 -0400 Jordan Mallon
> <jordan.mallon@gmail.com> writes:
> > > I read this "following strategy" all the time
> (Horner, Abler,
> > Bakker,
> > > Curie have repeated this for years), but what is
> the original
> > source for
> > > the info?
> > I'm pretty sure Abler first put the idea forward.
> Well, the only Abler paper I have is his 1992 paper
> in _Paleobiology_
> 18(2):161-183.  Nowhere in his paper does Abler
> state that the Komodo
> Dragon follows or stalks its wounded and/or infected
> prey.  Abler does
> make *one* comment about Komodos being "able to
> subue previously bitten
> prey".  But as far as we know, the prey item may not
> have wandered from
> the site of the intial attack (most of the monitor's
> larger prey on
> Flores and Komodo Islands are domestic cattle and
> the occassional water
> buffalo, both of which have extremely limited
> ranges).  Abler's only
> primary sources on the Komodo Dragon were two
> reports:
> Auffenberg, W. 1981.  The behavioral ecology of the
> Komodo Monitor.
> University of Florida  Press, Gainesville, Fla.
> Blair, L.. and L. Blair.  1987/1988.  Dance of the
> Warriors [Film].
> Blair Brothers Productions, WGBH Educational
> Foundation, and WGBH ,
> Boston.
> In his pop-sci book _The Complete T. rex_, John
> Horner (1993) mentions
> Abler's (1992) research, but Horner doesn't go as
> far as to claim that
> Komodo Dragons actually followed or stalked dying
> prey.
> I haven't seen Blair and Blair's film, nor have I
> read Auffenberg's
> paper, so I remain open-minded to the possibility
> that Komodos do this.
> But it is possible that the claim is an urban myth.
> Compared to mammals and birds, lizards utilize a
> much different energy
> conservation plan, involving long periods of
> inactivity punctuated with
> short bursts of activity.  Therefore, it would be
> *much* more energy
> efficient for a lizard to eat whatever prey item
> keels over closest to
> where the lizard is sleeping.  And if a different
> Komodo inflicted the
> original infectious bite, it won't matter a bit to
> the other Komodo who
> happened upon the corpse.
> <pb>
> --

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