STL Science Center

STL Science Center

26 June 2013

How Do We Hunt?

©Dmitry Bogdanov
At an estimated 26.2 ft (8 m) long Deltadromeus was a fairly long ceratosaur. Majungasaurus, one of the largest ceratosaurs in body size, was only about 23 ft (7 m) from tip to tail and Ceratosaurus was even shorter at 20 ft (6 m) long. Despite its larger size Deltadromeus appears to have maintained a rather sleek figure; its muscle mass and body mass have been estimated to be average for a theropod of its size but minimal enough that the body appears to have been fairly agile, hence the specific epithet agilis. Such a physique also influenced the name Deltadromeus, meaning "Delta Runner", as the agile yet powerful hindlimbs seem to have been specially adapted for speed. Given what appear to be weak hands, in terms of grasping, it makes sense that speed rather than grappling with the hands would be an important predatory trait of this dinosaur. However, we are missing the skull and many clues could potentially lie in the structure of the cranium. Taking cues from other members of the ceratosauria, we may assume that the jaws of this animal were not its strongest feature; the long and slender teeth found in many ceratosaurs indicate weaker bite force potential. We may also make the assumption that Deltadromeus may have had small family units or mate pairs that hunted together, as this idea has been put forth with regard to Ceratosaurus hunting techniques. However, since we do not have either the hand claws or teeth of Deltadromeus, and we also lack evidence of pairing, we cannot for certain say whether it would have sliced at prey with hands or teeth and that mystery creates a large void in what we know of the biology of Deltadromeus. Hopefully, as with all fossil animals, there will be future expeditions and discoveries so that we have more definitive proof how Deltadromeus hunted.

No comments:

Post a Comment