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Re: "Tyrannosaurus was not strictly a predator"
Something jumped out at me that seemed unusual in the latest on the
Hell Creek fauna, Horner, Goodwin and My[hr]vold (2011):
"This census suggests that *Tyrannosaurus* was not strictly a
predator, but instead more of an opportunistic feeder, possibly
selecting similar food choices under circumstances comparable to that
of hyenas in extant ecosystems, a trend unrecognized in earlier
Wow. That's nothing short of a strawman that they're burning here.
Really, has anybody ever claimed that *Tyrannosaurus* was a pure
predator that shunned free lunches? After all, and this has been
repeatedly mentioned in the primary literature, there are no extant big
vertebrates that behave this way. Cheetahs come close, but even they
have been documented to scavenge in the rare instances that they think
nobody will chase them away from the carcass too soon.
In the scientific literature, the debate has never been "pure predator
vs. pure scavenger"; it has been "opportunistic predator vs. pure
scavenger". To imply otherwise is flat-out dishonest; I cannot see how
Horner et al. -- or for that matter the reviewers of their manuscript!
-- could possibly plead ignorance on this point.
It's also a bit strange how Horner et al. don't make it explicit that
they've changed their point of view: they used to be on the "pure
scavenger" side of the debate, now they're on the "opportunistic
predator" side... where everyone else is, so the debate is over, even
though the quote above explicitly pretends otherwise.
By the way, how much scavenging hyenas do varies geographically. In some
places, the scenario we're used to holds: the lions hunt, and the hyenas
eat the remains. But there are also places where the hyenas do most of
the hunting, and then the lions come, chase the hyenas away from the
carcass, and scavenge -- so the hyenas hunt for themselves _and_ for the