The theoretical concept is straightforward: The higher the metabolic needs of a predator, the scarcer in number it will be. (life size dinosaur)To determine the allosaurs’ metabolism, all that was required was a count of the number of specimens and a comparison with the number of prey specimens found in the same strata. If allosaurs were always rare compared to all their prey, as rare as lions are relative to zebra and antelope, it would provide direct evidence that the predatory dinosaurs needed a very large weekly ration of meat. But if allosaurs were very common, say ten times more abundant relative to their prey than are lions, tigers, or hyenas, it would provide strong support for the orthodox view that dinosaurs shared the leisurely metabolic style typical of snakes and other cold-blooded animals.
I determined on making a predator to prey census through the entirety of geological history, from bottom to top, beginning with the very primitive reptiles of the Coal Age, through successive levels of dinosaurs, and ending with the game parks in Africa and India today. (dinosaur factory)So far my studies have taken ten years, but I believe they have been amply justified by the results. They have revealed a spectacular story of metabolic evolution, a saga of hunters and hunted stretching throughout the 300-million-year record left by evolving ecosystems one that at last places dinosaurs in their proper place in the grand progression of evolution.
Before starting the count of fossil fauna, I sought some confirmation of the idea that the metabolism of predators does indeed regulate their scarcity and abundance. Interactions in nature are often so complex and unpredictable that perhaps counting predators and prey would yield no reliable information about metabolism. (animatronic dinosaur costume)For example, even if a species of allosaur was cold-blooded, and therefore could have existed in relative abundance, diseases might keep its number low, much lower than the maximum hypothetically permitted by its metabolism. And many ecological agents could depress the numbers of top predators: parasites, bad weather, fighting between predators, competition from the scavengers. What was needed was at least one test case from living ecosystems to show that predator-to-prey ratios might work as calorimeters for cold-blooded predators.