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Re: cause of Gigantism in sauropods



>Hobbling or weakening perhaps. Slicing off chunks for >eating? Not sure about 
>that. Claws vs teeth? I would >think slicing by claws might be safer (for the 
>predator) >than biting.

The question here is whether the base of the neck was greatly more
vulnerable than other parts of the body, making it an easy focus for
theropod attack. I have my doubts about this when it comes to
sauropods that outmassed the predator in question five to ten times
(or whatever the figure may be in a given case). I think the noted
similarity in general construction between theropod and canid skulls
argues more for a harrying, dash-in-bite-dash-out approach - not that
canids don't sometimes go for a grip on the muzzle or throat in the
course of hunting. But it's not their primary attack method, as
opposed to airway-attacking specialists like cats and various
non-felid sabertoothed critters.

In all probability, hunting techniques varied considerably based on
the size, temperament, and condition (injury/illness/starvation/etc)
of the prey being targeted. We shouldn't limit ourselves to
speculation on a single technique unless the morphology appears
specialized for it.

I'm not sure about "slicing" with claws - I'd say slashing, ripping,
and gouging are better terms. Might be safer in some cases; the claws
on most big allosaurs and megalosaurs certainly seem to have been used
for something. I tend to think that a basic, reptilian strategy of
doing as much damage on any given pass of teeth and claws to the flank
(or any target that presented itself) is a reasonable scenario, the
function being to draw as much blood and weaken the target until it
can't fight back. This is basically what canids and crocutids do,
using their somewhat generalized morphology to harry much larger prey
animals into exhaustion.