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Predators, prey, and physics: the distinction between v and a can be a life or death matter….

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Presentation on theme: "Predators, prey, and physics: the distinction between v and a can be a life or death matter…."— Presentation transcript:

1 Predators, prey, and physics: the distinction between v and a can be a life or death matter…. http://www.flickr.com/photos/stignygaard/2485557955/

2 data from films Data from Elliott, P., Cowan, I.M., and Holling, C.S. 1977. Prey capture by the African lion. Canadian Journal of Zoology 55(11):1811-1828. v (m/s) t(s) gazelle lion 10 20 4 12 8 16

3 v (m/s ) t(s) gazelle lion 10 20 4 12 8 16 What can we infer from the plot? A. The lion should chase the gazelle as long as possible to maximize the chance of catching it. B. The lion should chase the gazelle until the gazelle reaches its maximum velocity. C. The lion should give up the chase if it hasn ’ t caught the gazelle within 4 seconds. D. The gazelle doesn ’ t have to worry about lions, because it can run about twice as fast. E. The gazelle travels farther than the lion does in the first two seconds of the chase.

4 Insert graphic from primary or other source, with appropriate copyright permission liongazelle initial accel. 9.5 m/s 2 4.5 m/s 2 top speed (estimated) 14 m/s 27 m/s Data from Elliott, P., Cowan, I.M., and Holling, C.S. 1977. Prey capture by the African lion. Canadian Journal of Zoology 55(11):1811-1828.

5 “The ability of a predator to catch prey may depend more on its acceleration than on its maximum speed. Indeed, a predator with superior acceleration may be able to catch prey even if its top speed is lower than that of the prey.” -- R.M. Alexander, Principles of Animal Locomotion (Princeton University Press, 2003)

6 Dinosaurs, too? http://www.flickr.com/photos/46183897@N00/2705371948/

7 Glen Rose trackway - Texas/AMNH Ongoing debate among paleontologists May record pred/prey interaction Stride-matching similar to behavior of extant predators Physics as window on past biology Insert graphic from primary or other source, with appropriate copyright permission


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