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Re: DROMAEOSAUR "SICKLE" CLAWS



Chris Campbell wrote:
 
<large quotes snipped>

> Perhaps my info's outdated, but I thought it clear that _Smilodon_ used
> its teeth to effectively hunt and kill juvenile mammoths.  It's build
> certainly supports the idea, and there are some crazy lions and tigers
> even today who hunt elephants, so the concept isn't completely unheard
> of among felids (or their kin, as the case may be).

_Smilodon fatalis_ definitely went after large and heavy prey: mammoths,
mastodons, rhinos, perhaps ground sloths.  Skeletons from the La Brea
Tar Pits confirm that: many of them show pathological damage to the rib
cage and upper vertebrae consistent with rushing, tackling type attacks
against things that were very large and very solid.  However, none of
the references I have seem to agree on precisely _how_ _Smilodon_ killed
its prey.  Stabbing?  Slashing?  Clawing?  Throat-strangles, like modern
cats prefer?  The gigantic saberteeth seem like made to order killing
weapons, but _how_ did the cat kill with them?  They're blunt-tipped, so
they wouldn't make good stabbing weapons.  They have no edges, so they
couldn't be used for slashing.  And what would happen to a cat that
missed a lethal area on the first strike?  Those big, heavy saberteeth
are _extremely_ awkward to heave around, like an average man trying to
handle a claymore, that huge two-handed sword that Mel Gibson carried in
BRAVEHEART.  

> > 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.
> 
> This, I think, should be a critical part of determining the hunting
> behavior of Dromaeosaurs.  How much force can they exert with their
> jaws?  Most of the discussion here's been centered around that one big
> claw; before we can really talk about behavior, though, we have to see
> what other characters might support a given lifestyle.  Force per unit
> area exerted by the jaws is a huge part of that, at least in modern
> carnivorous mammals (and birds?  Do raptors have especially powerful
> jaw/beak muscles?); if that force isn't terribly great any notion of
> pack hunting in these animals is kinda silly if the claws aren't used as
> weapons.

To all of this, I don't know.  It's far beyond my knowledge level. 
Maybe someone else here has something to contribute on this topic?

-- JSW