Smelling good

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.

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