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Re: Velociraptor scavenged azhdarchid pterosaur

True, but that assumes that the "fighting dinosaurs" preserves a one-on-one 
predation attempt, which I personally doubt (actually, it may not be a 
predation attempt at all - consider that the Velociraptor appears to have been 
in the process of being mangled badly).  Incidentally, the 9kg mass for the 
azhdarchid in the new paper is probably too low by a fair margin (9kg is about 
the mass of a large albatross).  In any case, we cannot absolutely rule out 
predation, but it would still seem that scavenging would be the preferred 
hypothesis in this case.

This discussion/debate brings up an interesting question: what evidence should 
we, as paleontologists, require before tentatively accepting a scavenging 
hypothesis for a given preserved feeding event?  And conversely, what evidence 
should be required to tentatively accept a predation hypothesis?

--Mike Habib

On Mar 4, 2012, at 12:54 AM, Tim Williams wrote:

> Mickey Mortimer <mickey_mortimer111@msn.com> wrote:
>> Scavenging's certainly possible, but since the closely related Deinonychus 
>> is generally accepted as predating Tenontosaurus (which is about as heavy
>> compared to Deinonychus as Quetzelcoatlus is compared to Velociraptor), I 
>> don't see how we can favor one hypothesis over another.  Sure I'm assuming
>> that the Velociraptor was found singly, but if Roach and Brinkman (2007) are 
>> correct that Deinonychus did not live in packs but merely aggregated to kill,
>> then a lone dromaeosaurid with parts of a large animal in its belly is just 
>> what we'd expect.
> There's also the famous "fighting dinosaurs": _Velociraptor_ preserved
> in combat with _Protoceratops_.  The _Velociraptor_ (an adult) is
> estimated to have have weighed around 24 kg, the _Protoceratops_ at
> least that much.
> For the Hone &c study, the _Velociraptor_ was a sub-adult estimated to
> have tipped the scales at 13 kg.  The pterosaur is estimated to have
> weighed at least 9 kg.  So IMHO the contest between _Velociraptor_ and
> pterosaur would be less daunting than _Velociraptor_ vs
> _Protoceratops_.  Also, pterosaurs (even azhdarchids) were less adept
> on the ground than velociraptorines.  Would it really have been
> prohibitively difficult for a  _Velociraptor_ to attack an azhdarchid
> of comparable (or even lesser) body mass?  Even if the pterosaur
> weighed substantially more than the _Velociraptor_, predation still
> seems to be well within the realm of possibility.
> Cheers
> Tim

Michael Habib
Assistant Professor of Biology
Chatham University
Woodland Road, Pittsburgh PA  15232
Buhl Hall, Room 226A
(443) 280-0181