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Re: Dinosaurs burrowed to keep warm
Roberto Takata writes:
Could not Oryctodromeus just be trapped inside a lair of another organism?
I haven't read the paper itself, but apparently the robust forelimbs and
structure of the jaw may be adaptations for some sort of digging activity.
Of course, these same features would have been handy for scraping out nest
hollows for surface-dwellers as well. I wonder whether the tails of these
species were less stiffened than the 'average' hypsilophodontid? Going down
a burrow with a long stiffened tail would seem to indicate a one-way trip.
Even if they did habitually reside down burrows, it doesn't necessarily mean
they dug the burrows themselves. There are plenty of extant organisms that
use second-hand burrows. Wart hogs are a good example. They can't dig an
entire burrow themselves, but they can modify existing burrows abandoned by
other animals and use them as shelter.
Burrow-dwelling snakes can't even modify burrows at all. They simply make do
with what another species has provided for them. The giant tiger snakes that
live on islands in Bass Strait south of the Australian mainland shelter in
sheerwater burrows, often without even waiting for them to be abandoned. The
tiger snakes feed mostly on sheerwater eggs which are only available for a
couple of months a year (necessitating a nine-month fast). Adult birds are
too large to be swallowed, as are the fast-growing chicks. The birds seem to
tolerate the snakes in their burrows provided the eggs have already hatched.
If a burrow were to collapse and kill everything in it, I wonder what
palaeontologists would make of the scene in the future? Neither birds nor
snakes have any obvious burrowing adaptations.
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