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Re: Phorusrhacids killing large mammals in National Geographic Channel

That makes a lot more sense. I know woodpeckers have a skull with a
ton of joints to absorb shock, but I haven't heard anything like that
about phorusrhacids. What Dann said about using the feet instead to
avoid getting your head knocked around is a good idea. I've actually
had to use a similar strategy to defend myself from a couple of

On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 9:47 PM, Dann Pigdon <dannj@alphalink.com.au> wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 21st, 2009 at 1:32 PM, Augusto Haro <augustoharo@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Last night I was watching a show at Nat Geo with phorusrhacids killing
> > mammals larger than themselves like Woody Woodpecker, hitting with
> > their beak, and apparently the downcurved tip of the upper jaw (as a
> > sidenote, one also put a wolf to sleep with a karate kick on the
> > head). As far as I know, no Recent bird uses the curved tip of the
> > upper jaw in this way, but it helps tearing flesh from corpses. In the
> > show it is also said that the beak is largely hollow... would not this
> > make the beak more fragile, and thus less likely to perform such
> > blows?
> Most birds that I can think off that 'peck' things to death tend to have 
> relatively straight beaks (like
> storks for instance), which makes more sense from an engineering perspective. 
> A shallow curve
> can be useful if you're swinging into the hit like a pick-axe, however I 
> suspect most 'peckers' (if
> you'll excuse the term) tend to drive their beaks straight ahead rather than 
> swing through an arc.
> If anything, sharp curved beaks are better suited to pull back on things 
> rather than peck forward. I
> imagine a phorusrhacid would be better off gripping and then pulling 
> backwards (allosaur-style)
> rather than emulating the woodpecker from hell.
> That's if they used their heads at all to kill prey. It makes more sense to 
> subdue prey with well-
> armoured feet at the end of muscular legs, rather than risk bringing the head 
> close to it. You can
> survive losing the occasional toe, but brain damage can really ruin your day.
> --
> _____________________________________________________________
> Dann Pigdon
> GIS / Archaeologist                Australian Dinosaurs
> Melbourne, Australia               http://home.alphalink.com.au/~dannj
> _____________________________________________________________