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Re: dino-lice

2011/4/18 Tim Williams <tijawi@gmail.com>:

> When it comes to feeding on a carcass, the alvarezsaurs might well
> have been the last to arrive at the scene.

Yes, but in this case the specialized morphology of the forelimb seems
not so important for hide-cutting or breaking if carrion-eating.

> Having high visual and/or
> olfactory acuity may not have been so important, because (a) many
> carcasses would have been huge and (b) alvarezsaurs could be your
> typical camp-followers, and trailed larger predatory theropods with a
> view to a kill.

If large dinosaurs had low population densities, finding one by itself
would be difficult, more making a living of these. In addition, for
visual animals, it depends on how much exposed the corpse was. The
possibility of finding one also would depend on how fast animals with
greater acuity ingested the carcass after coming before. This does not
count if following animals with better senses, or if not living
primarily on corpses.

> I'm not suggesting that alvarezsaurs were obligate scavengers.
> However, as noted by Longrich & Currie (2008), ant nests were likely
> rare in the Mesozoic, and termitaria possibly absent altogether -
> leaving wood-nesting termites as the only common social insect
> contemporary with alvarezsaurs.  So there would seem to be slim
> pickings indeed for a theropod that relied solely on ants and termites
> as its food source.

Agreed on the need to eat more than social insects, but it seems to me
more likely for they to pick small animals, seeds, or not though
plants, than carrion-eating, because of not having recurved beaks or
teeth. I think following large herbivores and searching for its
droppings may provide many seeds, and perhaps also insects if waiting
a time.