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Re: Humor: the Uses of Sickle Claws



I did not expect my grooming echidna analogy to garner such thoughtful
discussion!  But, now that we're talking seriously, I suppose I can
respond.

Christopher < charger72@JUNO.COM> writes:
> Such a claw would have also been
> useful for climbing, grooming, scratching, and perhaps even digging.

I fail to see how the singular elongated phalanx and enlarged, laterally
narrow ungual would be useful in digging (unless you're speaking of prying
out insects or something).  But I could be wrong.

> I'm not saying that the claw wasn't *ever* used to slash, just that it
> was more of a swiss army knife than a switchblade.

Yes, it may have had 101 uses.  Even if it was used primarily for offense,
we can only imagine how it was actually employed.  It is presumably easier
to refute scenarios that would appear improbable than to truly <prove> how
these weapons were actually used.  Even so, animal behavior has a way of
surprising people who think they've seen everything.  

Back (again!) to the subject of dromaeosaurs using but a single ungual per
pes as a primary means of attack (in concert with the manual unguals and
teeth, of course): if it would be such a bad idea to attack in this
fashion, then would someone please explain to me why humans (who could
clearly fashion weapons to any specification imaginable) prefer to stab,
gouge, lacerate, and otherwise do serious bodily harm (to fellow humans
and/or other animals) with manual weapons which have but a single blade
rather than a rake-like arrangement?  (The Freddy Krueger model)?  Sure,
those #2 unguals could be damaged in a conflict, but nature <tends> to be
conservative in design, and provides only enough function, in most cases,
to enable an individual to grow up, breed, and DIE.  Elephants might
benefit from having more than two tusks because they often break, but
that's their tough luck!  As opponents of offensive #2 pedal unguals have
been eager to point out, a dromaeosaur could probably get by even without
them.  Perhaps, after a particularly bad scrape, that is exactly what they
did.

For the quintessential image of a theropod using its pedal ungual for
scratching (echidna analogies, anyone?) we now turn our hymnals to page 119
of Paul's _PDW_, where an _Allosaurus fragilis_ demonstrates.

Ralph (not an authority) Miller III <gbabcock@best.com>

Blame me, shame me, flame me.