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Okay, I've done some looking at the Oviraptor arms and here's my thoughts
on the palms inwards vs. palms backwards thing.
I think what may be going on is some serious crushing. The
Mongolian specimens are wonderful because they've been preserved by
sandstorms- none of those nasty streams and lagoons that will let parts
drift off. What you do have a problem with is some pretty serious (albeit
less so than Solnholfen) crushing at times. Oviraptor is one such fossil.
The metatarsals are preserved as in life, but the tibia is not on top,
but to the right of, the left foot! So as oriented, the palms face in, but
the arms appear extended (i.e. palms-back setup) out to the sides, when in
fact the arms may have been extending down, not out when the creature was
buried. This would mean that Sereno's palms-in interpretation is the
correct one, and that the palms-back reconstruction shown in the Nature
article is incorrect.
Does anyone know much about the crushing of these fossils
(Oviraptor and Velociraptor are both distorted in some
respects, the "fighting specimen" less so). Am I right in thinking that
the crushing is not the cause of forces that occurred after
fossilization, but within weeks, months, or centuries aftr being buried
beneath a mountain of sand?