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Bakkers, Drinkers, and 'raptors



  I found this fun little article in a club newsletter.  It is originally
from _New Scientist_.  Anybody happen to know if Bakker is *really* claiming
that _Drinker_ is an ancestor of the 'raptors, and that 'raptors had
_Drinker_ type ankles?

<H1 ALIGN="CENTER">Voracious Climbers</H1>
<HR SIZE="5">
<P>A tree would not have been a safe refuge from hungry dinosaurs in
<I>Jurassic Park</I>.  "Raptors climbed," says [Dr.] Robert Bakker of the
Tate Mineralogical Museum in Casper, Wyoming.
<P>Scientists had thought dinosaurs had bird-like ankles which flexed
backwards and forwards, but not from side to side.  That would have made
climbing difficult for most dinosaurs, which lacked the [large] rear
grasping claw that birds use to hold onto branches.
<P>At the Sixth North American Paleontological Convention in Washington DC
last week, Bakker described the well-preserved ankle and foot bones of
<I>Drinker nisti</I>, a chicken-sized herbivorous [hypsilophodontid]
dinosaur that lived over 100 million years ago in Wyoming.  Its ankle has
five ball-and-socket joints, which would have allowed movement in every
direction.  Bakker says this flexibility would give the dinosaur the ability
to climb trees "as well as a raccoon".
<P><I>D. Nisti</I> is one of the earliest members of its family, and Bakker
believes that later members -- including the raptors -- retained flexible
ankles.
<P>[Ummmm....this last paragraph makes little sense considering 'raptors are
theropods and hypsilophodontids are predentatans.  One is <I>not</I> the
ancestor of the other; they are related only at the base of the dinosaurian
family tree.  The only thing I can figure is that Dr. Bakker claims that the
ankle of <I>Drinker</I> is primitive for the dinosauria as a whole, thus
making it possible for 'raptors to retain them.  Sounds like baloney to me,
considering the article itself points out that birds do <I>not</I> have this
type of ankle, and I'm not aware of any evidence that indicates that their
close relatives, the 'raptors, strayed from the normal bird-ankle design. --
Jeff]

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