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Casey Tucker wrote:
> > Ralph Miller III wrote:
> >
> > > What, then, do <you> think the dromaeosaurs were doing with those big
> > > claws?
> >
> > I don't know what they were used for.  I only know that I don't really
> > find any of the conventional explanations to be convincing.  The huge
> > foot-claw in dromaeosaurs seems to me to be a case of extreme overkill
> > in any predatory scenario.
> > -- JSW
> Extreme overkill?  Nothing like the fangs on a Sabretooth cat,or a modern
> Persian Leopard who has one of the proportionally larger sets of fangs of
> any modern predator, or the amount of force per square inch in a
> crocodile's bite.  There are many examples of predators with "weapons" that
> seem like overkill.

Paleontologists aren't sure yet what sabercats used their sabers for. 
In fact, there seems to be as much debate over that as there is over
dromaeosaur claws. <g> We only know that exaggerated fangs is a
repetitive trend in felid evolution, with at least four separate lines
yielding sabertooth or dirktooth forms.  The snow leopard is an
incipient fifth longtooth form, but right now its fangs are simply
unusually long for its size.  Nowhere near as exaggerated as
_Smilodon_'s sabers or _Deinonychus_'s big claw.

As for crocs, the amount of force in a crocodile's bite is not
overkill.  It's an adaptation that gives a higher chance that the croc
will hold onto a catch.  A croc's teeth aren't especially sharp, so it
needs brute force to drive them deep into a prey animal.  And even with
that staggeringly powerful bite, it's still not unheard of for a prey
animal to break free and escape.

-- JSW