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Re: Mesozoic birds made insects shrink

Dann Pigdon <dannj@alphalink.com.au> wrote:

> Surely there were a lot of non-flying creatures also eating insects during 
> the Mesozoic? Large flying
> insects would have had to land on something eventually, and I suspect they'd 
> be more vulnerable
> to predation by non-volant critters while at rest than they'd be to any 
> volant predator of the time
> while on the wing.

_Chirostenotes_ has been interpreted as targeting small soft-bodied
prey in crevices, courtesy of the modified second finger.  Little
_Epidendrosaurus_ has a highly elongated third finger is that might
have similarly been used as a tool for extracting insects.
Alvarezsaurids have been regarded as using their stubby-but-powerful
forelimbs to break into termite nests or rotting wood to procure
insect prey.  So we have several lineages of theropods inferred to
have included insects in their diets - such as grubs and other larvae,
more so than flying (or gliding) forms.

Like Mark, I wondered about the larval stages of pterygote insects.
These may have been at least as vulnerable as their adult counterparts
in the Early Cretaceous.

Plus, AFAIK, the jaws of Early Cretaceous birds do not show the wide
mouths that we might expect to see in aerial hawkers.  Anurognathids
do, and as stated by Mark this is the only group of Mesozoic
vertebrates that adapted for snatching insect prey on the wing.

T. Yazbeck <tyazbeck@comcast.net> wrote:

> And there weren't many huge insects in the Mesozoic, either. In fact, I 
> wonder if there are more now than back then.

Really?  The Titanoptera (wingspan up to around 40 cm) might disagree
with you here.