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Re: Sheesh



<<...humm, well, I've just finished reading "The Ancestor's Tale" by Richard
Dawkins and in it he asked "why were there no dinosaur-moles?"  I would be
very interested to hear some views from the DML on this...>>

Burrowing for worms is best left to the experts, Roberts; mammals and
relatives.  /Haldanodon/, a docodont from the Upper Jurassic of Portugal
known from skulls, jaws and a partial skeleton, seems to have had tendencies
towards worm-mining, though not to the degree of specialisation shown by
moles.  Its limb bones suggest enormous, bulging muscles for powering dirt
from the ground, a roughened area on the skull has been interpreted as a
possible boss for a keratin miner's helmet and, most impressively, its teeth
suffered enormous damage from attempting to chew extremely tough stuff;
presumably sand and soil which form the typical side salad accompaniment
found inside yummy worms.  Comparisons tend to be made with the semi-aquatic
desmanes of contemporary Europe.

/Haldanodon/ was about 15cm of pure subterrainean, riverbank murder and
mayhem, quite possibly with a bit of swimming thrown in.  (Its earlier
relative, /Castorocauda/ of China described this year, was definitely
semi-aquatic.)  Somehow, its hard to imagine how a 12 metre long
proto-chicken of a theropod could have matched up to such dynamic expertise
and sheer brute power, (or even the more modest models).
Trevor

Mesozoic eucynodonts
http://home.arcor.de/ktdykes/meseucaz.htm
The Mesozoic - more than just the dinosaur