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RE: Phorusrhacids killing large mammals in National Geographic Channel

" Even cats themselves often develop huge pusy abscesses after being

Those would be 'pussy' abcesses ;)

But I think the other word you could use to avoid ambiguity is 'purulent'.

Dr John D. Scanlon, FCD
Riversleigh Fossil Centre, Outback at Isa
"Get this $%#@* python off me!", said Tom laocoonically.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dann Pigdon [mailto:dannj@alphalink.com.au] 
Sent: 27 July, 2009 10:11 AM
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: Phorusrhacids killing large mammals in National Geographic

On Sat, Jul 25th, 2009 at 7:52 AM, Erik Boehm <erikboehm07@yahoo.com> wrote:
> Apparently these birds are considered doomed from minor abrasions caused
by cats - their 
> system appears to be too weak to fend off an infection from a superficial
cut, or at least a
> bite.

Some cage birds are known to drop dead at the drop of a hat. Lack of
exercise, poorly balanced 
diet, and inbreeding could well be the main contributers. Many cage birds
are highly social species 
in the wild, so if they're kept alone in a cage they can develop
psychological problems as well. 
Stress or depression are known to reduce immune response.

I've seen wild songbirds survive cat attacks - although it's not often that
a cat botches the job. I 
suspect that wild populations have much greater selective pressure against
poor immune systems. 
Captive-bred birds are often bred for their looks rather than their health.
As far as some 
unscrupulous breeders are concerned, they only have to survive long enough
to be sold.

Cat bites in particular are prone to causing infections in just about any
type of animal. Even cats 
themselves often develop huge pusy abscesses after being bitten.

> Is it likely a Phorusrhacid would be similarly doomed by a defensive bite
from a mammal?

Given that they probably fed on carrion at every opportunity (as most
carnivores will), I'm 
guessing their immune systems were probably somewhat more robust than that
of the average 
cage bird. However I imagine any deep puncture that compromised their system
of air-sacks would 
have been considered a serious injury.


Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist                Australian Dinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia               http://home.alphalink.com.au/~dannj