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Re: Microraptor ate birds
> From: Robert Schenck <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>>>It's definitely intriguing, and IF microraptor et al were arboreal, it is
>>The hypothesis is not well-thought out, and not based on any modern
>>comparisons (hence, I predict it will be published in Nature, or ProcB).
>Should we really expect there to be good comparisons though? I'll
agree that the lack of modern analogs isn't meaningless, but how much
weight should we give it?
I don't think it would be beyond reason to do a little survey of extant
predators that eat "arboreal" birds, and see just how regularly said birds are
caught in trees as opposed to on the ground. This wasn't done, merely an
assumption was made (not the least, the assumption of arboreality on the prey's
behalf). I understand this is a poster, not a peer-reviewed paper; these sorts
of conclusions shouldn't make it into print without a proper assessment of the
data, but frequently we see misinformation making it through. The original
Microraptor gui description had a reconstruction of a splayed-limb glider -at
odds with known anatomy of dinosaurs; indeed the upright unsplaying hindlimb is
one of THE dinosaurian features emphasized in the most basic undergraduate
classes on dinosaurs; I can;t understand how this was missed by both
researchers and reviewers alike. This poster is further illustrative of the
glider-first argument being based on poor reasoning,
purely hypothetical models, and weak knowledge of anatomy and ecology, that
somehow gets into big journals.
>Anyway I'll agree that the positive evidence for arboreality in
Mesozoic dinosaurs doesn't seem to be out there, but if they were
arboreal predators, then, yes, preying on other arboreal species could
Make sense? part of this thread suggested trees were some sort of refugium from
predation, now apparently the opposite makes sense. This is where surveying the
extant ecological literature makes more sense.
>> It's not behaviour: it's diet. For all we know, the Microraptor might have
>> found a dead bird on the ground.
>Absolutely, could've come from the ground. It's still behaviour of
course, my point is that its something other than osteology, which is
Yes, it's paleobiological data. Evidence of some trophic interaction. This part
is very interesting. I like the point made by someone else that it is little
different from finding fish remains in confusciusiornithids: does this mean
they were waterbirds that always eat fish? what is the variability in diet of
carnivorous birds anyway? Do they eat the same food all the time, caught the
same way, or a variety of different prey types, caught different ways and
places? what is the difference between catching prey and killing prey? Does the
bald eagle only eat fish? What does a cosmopolitan diet mean? None of this is
addressed; just leaping to conclusions about arboreality without trying to test
a hypothesis, or even survey possible corroborating data.