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RE: When carnivores kill other carnivores... (Morrison movie questions)

> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Karen Casino
> Hey, all!
> For those of you who don't know, I'm doing research for a script I'm
> writing. This subject line plays right into some questions that I have
> about this kind of situation. I have a scene (previously set as a
> sauropod stampede, which notion Dr. Carpenter kindly euthanized)
> involving large amounts of carrion in the environment preserved in the
> Morrison formation.
> My questions are:
> 1) Is Saurophaganax a distinct species, or is it just a very large
> Allosaur of another species?

Yes.  Seriously, that is the answer: there is no consensus on this situation, 
so some regard it as Saurophaganax maximus and others
as Allosaurus maximus.

> (And under what circumstances do you
> capitalize the name of a species?)

Species are two-word names. The first name is always capitalized, the second 

So, the following are species names:
Homo sapiens, Homo erectus, Ginkgo biloba, Tyrannosaurus rex, Saurophaganax 
maximus, Panthera leo, Panthera tigris.

These all belong to the genera (single word, capitalized):
Homo, Homo, Ginkgo, Tyrannosaurus, Saurophaganax, Panthera, and Panthera 

> 2) Huh. So there's a giant Ceratosaurus in the Morrison formation.
> Would it get to be as large as the one that seems to have been present
> in the Tendaguru? (And for that matter, how reasonable would it be to
> use species from the Tendaguru formation in a Morrison setting?)

NOTE: the giant Tendaguru one may not actually BE a ceratosaur. It is based on 

There are no species of Tendaguru dinosaurs currently known in the Morrison, or 
vice versa. There are some regional differences.
That being said, there are a lot of similarities, too.

> 3) At this point, is it possible to reconstruct Torvosaurus with any
> degree of accuracy, and if so, where would I look for skeletal
> diagrams, etc?

Greg Paul's Predatory Dinosaurus of the World skeleton, and the skull 
restoration in Britt's 1991 monograph, are probably the best
details so far. New data from some of Bakker's megalosaurids (Edmarka, 
Brontoraptor) may shed light on Torvosaurus anatomy, too.

> 4) How reasonable is it to use Acrocanthosaurus or a similar species in
> a Morrison setting?

Not as such. Or rather, the Acrocanthosaurus-like species in the Morrison are 
Allosaurus fragilis, Allosaurus sp. 2, and
Saurophaganax maximus!

> The scene I have in mind involves the aftermath of a mass slaughter of
> Seismosaurs. (People are after the gastroliths. I'll have more
> questions on this subject.)

I'd have some questions, too. Like why gastroliths in particular? Why would 
passing perfectly ordinary rocks through the guts of an
animal make them special?

> Some thirty or forty animals have been
> killed, and the harvesting of the gastroliths has begun. Blood is on
> the wind, and the local predators are starting to swarm. One of the
> lead characters makes use of the presence of the predators to conduct
> an assault on the folks who slaughtered the Seismosaurs. If anyone has
> any ideas at all about this scenario, I'd be happy to steal from you.
> I'd like to be able to include some of the lesser known species like
> Torvosaurus and Acrocanthosaurus just for giggles, and since both of
> those species appear to be able to, uh, defeat an Allosaurus of
> comparable dimensions in combat they have particular appeal.

Well, Acro: no problem defeating the smaller and far more primitive Allosaurus. 
But while a Torvosaurus might do well on one-to-one
combat with an Allosaurus, I would interpret the latter as more agile and of 
comparable bulk and fire power.

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
        Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
        Mailing Address:
                Building 237, Room 1117
                College Park, MD  20742

Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796