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RE: Phorusrhacids killing large mammals in National Geographic Channel
On Mon, Jul 27th, 2009 at 4:56 PM, John Scanlon
> Also, I learned some stuff about cassowaries on TV last night
> such as seeing them swallow surprisingly large fruit, and pass
> large quantities of seeds (~2cm diameter, sometimes 'hundreds' at a time...
> add water, wait a bit, and instant thicket!), which clearly must inform
> thinking about behavior involving gastroliths.
Since cassowaries are mainly frugivores (but don't turn down the occasional
insect or small
animal), they probably have a fast digestive turnover. Fruit has been
'designed' by natural
selection to be easily digested, to encourage things to eat it. Less time in
the digestive tract also
means less chance of the seeds being damaged.
I've always had the impression that gastroliths in herbivores would be of more
use against hard-to-
digest material, that requires a much longer retention time in the digestive
system. I know that
emus use gastroliths, but I'm having a hard time finding any references to
cassowary gastroliths. I
suspect they just don't need them (but feel free to correct me).
> ...(but are still easily taken down by a small pack of dogs).
I'm not sure how 'easy' such a kill would be.
I was impressed that it took three large men to subdue a large adult female -
despite the fact that
she was mostly tranquilised. Imagine the mayhem had they tried to tackle her at
It was also interesting to see how tolerant of humans cassowaries could become.
they're not the intestine-ripping pittiless whirlwinds of fury that some people
think they are. Of
course, I wouldn't want to get between a male and his chicks...
GIS / Archaeologist Australian Dinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia http://home.alphalink.com.au/~dannj