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Re: More on raptors...

On Thu, 14 Aug 1997, Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. wrote:

> Actually, the sickle claws of dromaeosaurids is very much unlike the
> raptorial claws of modern "raptors" (falconiforms and relatives).
> Dromaeosaurid sickle claws and hand claws are highly curved, with a very
> flat (blade-like) cross-section.  True "raptor" (bird) talons are moderately
> to highly curved, but have a thicker cross-section.
> Morphometrically, the claws among nonavian dinosaurs most similar to eagle
> talons are the manual claws of "megalosaurs", carnosaurs, and basal
> tetanurines (such as the aptly named Dryptosaurus aquilunguis [=eagle
> taloned wounding lizard]).  These dinosaurs have similar curvatures and
> cross-sections, and probably used their claws in a similar fashion (to
> pierce and pin their prey, rather than to slice them open).

This makes sense. Some birds, such as kestrels, use puncturing/piercing as
a primary mode of attack. Kestrels will hover helicopter-like over prey,
beating their wings extremely fast until they're sure the have something.
Then the wings close up, the talons go straight out and
zzzziiiip--CRUNCH! they punch right into dinner talons first. I saw this
last year when I was in Colorado, really an incredible sight....