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RE: Mollusk eating (was Re: Sauropod necks????)

Tim Williams (twilliams_alpha@hotmail.com) wrote:

<When Barsbold named _Conchiraptor_, he had all shelled molluscs in mind (Gk 
kogkhe, L. concha rather than just exotic undersea gastropods (conchs).>

  Indeed, Barsbold in 1977 discussed some of the math involved in a biting
oviraptorid skull and determined the likelihood of eating was for hard-shelled
foods, and pointed at the plentitude of bivalves in "Senonian" Mongolian beds
as a ready source of food, as well as more readily available, than seasonal
eggs (apparently egg shell is easier to crack than bivalve shell, thus physical
adaptations to shell cracking would have been driven by harder shells when the
muscle output was far in excess of the integrity an egg should muster. This of
course led to him naming *Conchoraptor*. As a test, I am of the driven need to
duplicate Anne Schulp's "mechanic mosasaur" used to feed *Carinodens* jaws as a
test for materials and handling, only this will use a whole jaw contraption. So
far, study of the jaw anatomy implies an implicit crack and swallow mechanism I
do not think bivalves would be adequate to explain as a mechanism for evolving
such jaws.

  But then, there's not an animal living today [that I know of] that adapts
itself soly to consuming eggs nor do I think there ever was, despite the
African egg-eating snake *Dasypeltis* (less than 30% of its diet is egg), so I
am not sure what is required to drive a primary feeding adaptation seemingly on
par with the anteater's restrictive jaw morphology. However, blue-tongued
skinks show a specific muscular adaptation for eating gastropods, giving the
name snail-eating skink, as compared to other skinks, so there may no be more
than a 30% habitus needed to select for a feeding adaptation, allowing
generalists to possess specific adaptations for certain, seasonal foods (like
many snakes).


Jaime A. Headden

  Little steps are often the hardest to take.  We are too used to making leaps 
in the face of adversity, that a simple skip is so hard to do.  We should all 
learn to walk soft, walk small, see the world around us rather than zoom by it.

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

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