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Re: Deinonychus claws

Dictator-for-life Calvin wrote:
> I don't understand how anything less than the full-blown dromeosaur
> sickle "wouldn't be much use for hunting."  

Maybe that was the wrong way to put it.  A "half-claw" wouldn't be much
_additional_ use for hunting, not when the animal already had perfectly
adequate claws on its hands, not to mention a complete cutlery set in
its jaws. <g>  

> The reason I don't buy the climbing argument for dromeosaur claws is
> that climbing animals seem to have a many claws and to spread them
> widely so as to hang on better.  A single spike of the
> telephone-pole-repairman variety strikes me as being a lot less
> useful than a widespread array of smaller claws.  If anyone knows of
> any confirmed arboreoles that go for one big claw, I'd be extremely
> interested--it would be worth having my speculation demolished  :-)

Well, whatever else it was doing with its feet, _Deinonychus_ was
certainly still walking on them. <g>  So its feet had to stay useful for
walking.  It's pretty easy to take a mammal foot, with the heel and
multiple toes, and adapt the claws for both walking and climbing.  All
you need to do is make the claws retractile.  It's interesting to note
in this context that the gray fox, which is unique among canids for its
climbing ability, has claws that are sort of semi-retractile.  Not
catlike by any means, but not fixed the way a dog's claws are, either.  

However, it might be rather more difficult to adapt a theropod foot for
both walking and climbing.  I seem to recall reading somewhere that the
big claw looks like it had some _huge_ muscles attached to it.  Maybe it
was strong enough to take the main weight of the animal, if the forepaws
helped with their multiple claws.

-- JSW