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Brian Franczak wrote:
> Dann Pigdon wrote:
> > I'm looking at a cast of a Deinonychus claw right now, and compared
> > to the general shape of theropod claws from the manus it is quite
> > distinctly thin and blade-like. I doubt it bore a razor edge, but
> > I can see it being forced in between the ribs and creating havock
> > with the internal organs.
> This is exactly the problem I've always had with the "slashing,
> disemboweling" depiction of hunting dromaeosaurs. That the claw could be
> "forced in between the ribs" and create havoc with the internal organs only
> seems likely if the prey animal stands there unmoving, allowing the
> dromaeosaur to perform this rather precise action. What prey animal will
> stand there while it is being eviscerated by its hunter? In reality, the
> running?, struggling? prey would not be so sedentary. How, then, does the
> hunter perform this type of "precision surgery"? It would seem to me that
> more often than not, the raptorial claw(s) would simply be raked over the
> ribs and gastralia, probably damaging the claw in the process. And the
> prey's moving thighs would seem to preclude easy access to its unprotected
> (by ribs) flanks.

        If I can use some modern analogies (tentatively), lions
will overwealm large prey by attempting to pile on top while
using their claws to grip on tight. The combined weight of a
couple of lions is often enough to prevent the prey from moving
once they have a firm grasp. In many pack hunters it is only
once the large prey has been thoroughly subdued that they go in
for the final kill (often the throat), since many modern
herbivores have horns and it must be absolutely safe before going
anywhere near that end.
        Many modern herbivores also tend to give up once the
odds seem overwealming. They often appear to just sit idly by
while their attackers begin to tear chunks from them before they
are actually dead. I wonder if dinosaurian herbivores could
be shocked into submission like this. I envisage a pack of
dromaeosaurs using the claws on all four limbs to pile on top of
larger prey (deinonychus and tenontosaurus come to mind). The
initial writhing of the prey would only serve to make the raking
wounds even worse. Once the creature had lost enough blood, or
went into a state of shock, perhaps the more precision attacks could
begin, finishing off the stunned beast in a more certain way by
slashing, ripping or simply stabbing more deeply with the foot
claws. Whether this scene was ever real or not, it certainly makes
for a dramatic scenario.

        Dann Pigdon
        Melbourne, Australia