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Re: Velociraptor scavenged azhdarchid pterosaur
Dan Chure wrote:
>> Things do not always go smoothly for predators, especially when feeding
>> on prey their size and larger. Injuries may not be uncommon.
Mike Habib wrote:
>Which is precisely why large terrestrial predators rarely attack prey near
>their own size, pack hunting obviously excepted. This is the point, of
>course, where reams of angry list members chime in with their favorite "here's
>an example of predator X killing unusually large prey item Y" - but these are
>overwhelmingly strange, desperate cases
Birds of prey will fairly commonly take prey that are subequal in size to
themselves (which would be the case with a 13kg Velociraptor vs a 9kg
pterosaur). Peregrines take a lot of pigeons, hawks take rabbits; accipitrines
take all manner of large birds their own size, or sometimes slightly larger.
Flight has little influence on the hawks and accipitrines as they take prey on
the ground, and other than being typically rather surprised have plenty of
fight left in them. If you take "large" prey (subequal size to the predator;
that cannot be contained within the foot), the issue is how do you immobilize
an animal that might retaliate?
Our 2011 paper described the RPR behaviour that facilitates such attacks (for
which comparable anatomical specialisations are lacking in extant mammalian
predators), and we specifically note that dromaeosaurid anatomy seems
increasingly adapted towards "large" prey RPR strategies. In this paper we
agree that predators will typically take prey smaller than themselves, but
really this was more a response to the idea that deinoonychus (et al) were
somehow always killing sauropods/tenontosaurs (although note the ability of
golden eagles to take down sheep; also in the paper). When bodymasses are more
closely matched, it may not be as much of an issue.
Behaviour can be difficult to interpret from the fossil record, but examples
like the new Hone et al paper give us data to work with. At the least, it's
nice to have gut contents for another taxon.