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RE: dino-lice

> Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2011 23:32:34 -0400
> From: jaseb@amnh.org
> To: mrvivianallen@googlemail.com
> CC: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Re: dino-lice
> Termite mounds are commonly described as having a hardness comparable to
> concrete or earthenware pottery.

They do now, yes.

When termites were new to the world, (when, as others in this discussion have 
said, alvarezsaurs were supposed to be eating them), would the termite mounds 
have the same hardness they do nowadays?

> Can Mr. Paul or anyone name an extant animal with a limb 2.5 centimeters
> long and the pectoral muscle mass proportionate to a 2cm sternum that can
> penetrate concrete? Even if it was a 2cm SPHERE of solid pectoralis fibers
> with a 3cm lever arm I don't think it could exert enough newtons of force
> to do so. I am aware that anteaters, pangolins, and varanids, with claws
> and pectoral skeletons two or three orders of magnitude more robust do
> open termite colonies, but is there any tiny bird or lizard that can
> penetrate concrete? Mr. Paul is right that Shuvuuia's pectoral musculature
> is extreme, but it is actually extremely TINY relative to a termite mound.

So Shuvuuia didn't slam its arms into the side of a termite mound -- if you're 
trying to break concrete, you don't strike randomly: you first look for a hole, 
crack, or somewhere else that is evidence of a weak point.

> If alvarezsaurids were tearing open bark or fallen logs, can anyone
> explain why their arms got smaller and more reduced as they specialized in
> this? What was the adaptive advantage that was conferred to the tiny -
> armed offspring of an ancestral animal like Haplocheirus in competing to
> tear open insect colonies?

so future paleontologists would not mistake them for Therizinosaurs. ;)

> On the other hand, having a 1.5 cm row of display feathers doesn't sound
> so eye - catching either.
 depends on how long the feathers are.  Birds of Paradise aren't the largest of