Image for Smelling good

Smelling good

Duration: 03:08

Alligator feeding strategy is based on having plenty of time. They've plenty of time to wait from something to make a mistake. It's bite first and ask questions afterwards. Birds choose to feed by picking up morsels from in between sticks, pebbles and other things - it selectively picks them up and swallows them. An alligator, on the other hand will strike at anything it sees. Tim Williams demonstrates this by leaving a cuddly toy by an alligator pool. They are opportunistic feeders. The alligators use their excellent sense of smell to track down their prey. Even a toy is tempting when dipped in fish oil. The differences between the bird and alligator behaviour is reflected in the shape of their brains. A look inside Al's head could provide direct evidence of his behaviour and a remarkable fossil has let scientists do just that. It's a brain cast from the inside of an Allosaurus skull. How does this compares with his relatives? A bird's brain has very large region dedicated to processing information, and a very small region dedicated to sensory input such as smelling. The alligator has a much larger sensory information and a smaller processing area. So it just snaps at whatever smells right. It is very similar to the allosaurus brain, so an Allosaurus behaviour should be compared to that of a modern alligator.

Available since: Tue 28 Sep 2010

Credits

Narrator
Kenneth Branagh
Expert
Paul Bybee
Expert
Rebecca Hanna
Expert
Octavio Mateus
Expert
Scott Rogers
Expert
Dale Russell
Expert
Michael Stoskopf
Expert
Tim Williams
Producer
Kate Bartlett
Executive Producer
Tim Haines

This clip is from

Walking with Dinosaurs Big Al, Big Al Uncovered

2/2 A look at the scientific work which went into the reconstruction of Big Al the Allosaurus.

First broadcast: 27 Dec 2000

Image for Big Al Uncovered Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss