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feathers, poison, tree-climbing



       I was thinking about the feather thing again and I recall seeing
an ostrich chick with a feathered neck. So it would seem that a feathered
patch of skin must not necessarily stay so. I don't recall of any patches
changing, however, to scales, but I wonder about ptarmigan feet- does
anyone know if they lose those feathers in the summer?

[Ostriches necks look "hairy" to casual inspection.  I presume those
 "hairs" are actually feathers.  Are you sure they lose follicles on
 their necks, Nick?  -- MR ]
 
        I was looking through my vertebrate bio text trying to find
something on poisons, with little luck, although it occurs to me that all
endothermic poisoners (those New Guinean birds with batrachotoxin, a
different New Guinea bird with mildly poisonous flesh, platypi) are all
using poisons defensively, rather than offensively, at least, all the ones
I can think of.

        While flipping through I ran across a picture of a tree shrew,
noting the flexibility of the back. (look at how squirrels move- same
thing, a sort of bounding motion).
 I was wondering whether any dinosaurs show such similar
flexibility. Bakker claims Drinker was a tree-climber, so it would be
neat to look at Drinker, but then, nothing has really been published
on that. Are there any dinosaurs (spinosaurus is one, I know, but not
one I'd suggest) that show unusual flexibility in the back, which
might imply tree-climbing?
        Thinking about this, I had a scene in my head of a dromaeosaur
lounging lazily up in a magnolia, with a little  hypsilophodont stuffed
into the fork of a limb. 
        I was toying with the idea of dromaeosaurs and archaeopterygians
having an arboreal ancestor, but seeing as dromaeosaurs have relatively
short chests, and they are stiffened (by those little uncinate(?) bones on
the rib cage) this wouldn't seem indicative of that. But perhaps either
Holtz or Curtice can answer this- how do the chests of dromaeosaurs
compare in general to those of other theropod dinosaurs?