After five weeks at the Bone Marrow Transplant center at the University of Iowa Hospital I’m finally back home and working on Dinosaur Island again!
As part of my work on scent ‘plumes’ or ‘cones’ and the ability of prey animals, like the Edmontosaurus, to detect the scent of a nearby T. rex and respond accordingly, I was wondering if it would be beneficial for a T. rex to adopt a hunting strategy in which it purposefully maneuvered downwind of the prey and then attacked. Consequently, I created a simulation in the Dinosaur Island AI test bed program (see screen shot above) with one T. rex (Bob) and one Edmontosaurus (Gertie), entered wind direction and velocity (as shown by the plume) and let the AI control Bob’s hunting with two different methods:
- An AI routine that maneuvered Bob downwind of Gertie and then attacked.
- An AI routine that maneuvered Bob directly towards Gertie using the fastest path (considering for terrain and slope).
After running a small number of tests today (about 25) it appears that the maneuvering downwind of the prey strategy is not as beneficial as I would have thought. Frequently Bob was observed by Gertie while maneuvering downwind. But, more importantly, when Bob adopted strategy #2 (the direct rush), Gertie didn’t smell or see Bob until he was within less than 40 meters.
Keep in mind that these experiments are just preliminary and, most importantly, they only involve a T. rex stalking an isolated Edmontosaurus (who almost always traveled in herds) but this is still food for thought. When a T. rex encountered a single isolated prey animal, it’s best hunting strategy was probably a direct rush.