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Re: Mononykus



On Wed, 16 Apr 1997 14:11:45 CDT "Dictator-for-life Calvin"
<MWEDEL@gslan.offsys.uoknor.edu> writes:
>>Could the mani have evolved from the practice of pulling bark off the 
>
>>base of trees to eat insects?
>
>I don't know much about this subject, but don't modern animals that 
>search for bugs under bark tend to have really, really long 
>appendages?  There's some little primate relative, I want to say 
>tarsier but I'm not sure, that has a seriously elongated middle 
>finger.

That's the Aye-Aye, from Madagascar, I believe, and the finger is
elongated to get way down into the holes it makes with its teeth and
other fingers and claws.   A woodpecker uses a long tongue to do the same
job the Aye-aye's long finger does.

>What really puzzles me isn't why the claw is so big, it's why the arm 
>is so short.  Why would an animal need to apply that kind of force 
>so close to the body?  Sloths or anteaters or moles or, for that 
>matter, dromaeosaurs, that all have big claws, have them out there 
>quite a ways from the body.  I would think that anything you would 
>need to bring that kind of claw to bear against, would not be 
>something you would want to have so close to your precious innards.
>
>If anybody has any ideas on why those arms are so short, I'm all 
>ears.

The only animals with short arms like that are diggers.  Now, I wonder if
the arms were set up for pulling apart a particular kind of
foliage/bark/scales of a particular family of trees?  Or just for parting
dense foliage?  The kicker that gets me is having cursorial hind legs and
leveraged, digging front legs.  No animal today has these extremes.  If
you dig AND run (like a rabbit), your limbs are a compromise between the
2 needs.  The limbs are not maximized as the best for running or the best
for digging, but have elements of both and are constrained from being
perfect for either.  Mononychus just doesn't seem to make sense.  I hate
to say this, but is there any chance at all that the front and back limbs
don't come from the same animal?  This is not a personal attack on the
folks who found it.  I'm not saying this is a hoax animal, just that I
wonder in what state it was found.

Judy Molnar
Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
vlmed@juno.com
jamolnar@juno.com
All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.