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Re: Origin of flight

Glen Ledingham writes:

Birds and small mammalian predators like cats and
foxes often pounce with high leaps rather than the
seemingly more efficient flat leaps, especially in
tall grass.  Perhaps this gives them better vision of
the prey and its evasive action or less resitance from
the ground cover.

A vertical pounce reduces the chance of the prey detecting the predator (and thus taking subsequent evasive action). The eyes of most terrestrial creatures are designed to look about in a horizontal plane, rather that to detect attacks from straight above. Vertical pounces take advantage of that blind spot, plus I imagine that using gravity to accelerate the predator's mass towards the prey (and then crushing them against the ground) is probably more energy efficient than a horizontal leap (where forces are generated by muscles alone).

Most vertical pouncers detect prey with their ears, and may not actually see the prey at all before catching them. Arctic foxes and polar bears both use an attack from above to snare creatures hidden beneath the snow (voles in the former, seals in the latter). Cats and foxes hunting in long grass also tend to locate prey via sound.


Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist              geo cities.com/dannsdinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia             heretichides.soffiles.com