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Peter Von Sholly wrote:
> Although I know that most knowledgeable paleofolks disagree with me I must
> (sigh) say again that I don't buy the "killing murder sickle claw"
> dromaeosaur hype.  Consider this:  I don't think anyone is maintaining that
> the BIG claw was sharp like a scalpel along the inner curve and could just
> slice through tissue like a razor or scalpel. Or am I wrong about this?  I
> think it was big and pointy and could pierce and hold, and no doubt rip
> skin when pulled.  

        Perhaps, as I have often suggested, the claw is not meant
as a precision tool, but to make a large messy wound to facilitate
bleeding in the prey. In fact sharp objects sometimes make very
little mess at all. Micro surgeons occasionally use glass flakes,
struck from special blocks much like a palaeolithic stone knapper,
because glass tends to be so sharp that it does not cause much bruising,
resulting in cleaner cuts that do not scar much. I doubt dromies
used those claws for surgery. 

>But imagine kicking or punching a foe with just one
> finger or toe.  Even a finger or toe that was big and sharp. You would risk
> breaking the digit with the force of the blow, which seems like a bad idea.

        Cassowaries bare the brunt of their kicks mainly on their
inner toe, and they can break a man's arm or near-disembowl him
(this is not a sexist comment, most women probably aren't stupid
enough to get that close to a cassowarie). Iguanodontids pressumedly
used their thumb spurs for something. Horses run about taking their
entire weight on the end of a single finger/toe of each limb. If a
digit is specialised enough it's amazing what it can do.

>   I suggest that dromaeosaurs kicked with all their toes for cushioning the
> blow to their own foot and for more impact, and pressed or curled in hard
> with the tips to pierce at the same time.  I have seen an illustration of a
> dromaeosaur hanging on the side of a big galloping tenontosaur with all its
> weight borne by its two big "sickle claws"- the hands merely holding on.
> This seems to put an unreasonable amount of strain on those toes,  and if
> they were so damn important, I hardly think the animal would do that.
> But then I also am very skeptical that they only walked on two toes also.
> Footprints?

        I also doubt that the foot claws were the main weapons, what
with those large forelimbs and a mouth full of serrated recurved
teeth. However those highly specialised toes must have had a purpose,
unless they were just for show. 
        Dann Pigdon
        Melbourne, Australia