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Re: The life of birds

Betty wrote:

<I just had a curious thought....how climb-able are cycads? Wouldn't
you NEED fingers to climb around a branchless trunk?>

  Cycads are not that dissimimlar in some very basic stuff from palms,
with a scale-like "bark"; now, imagine a palm being climbed by a
crab---fingers are not a necessity. Palms are, of course, one of the
more climbable trees, certainly easier than redwoods or similar
confiers. Monkey puzzle trees were certainly climbable, very large
branches and kinda shaggy bark. It's the surface, really, and not the
branches that matter.

<How climbable are fern trees? Do squirrels, apes, and other arborial
animals live in much of a habitat with cycad or fern-like growth? Or
are these all slitherers and flyers nowadays?>

  Naw. Remember "Gorillas in the Mist"? A few scenes there-in of
gorillas taking to monkey puzzle-like trees, low (around 20-40ft) but
branching higher up. Squirrels, of course, have very sharp and
recurved claws, while gorillas use their long strong arms to wrap the
trees. Same for goannas and other monitors. Certainly a few of you
have seen the numerous Komodo dragon programs on TLC and Discovery
that demonstrate young _Varanus_ scrambling effortlessly up
near-vertical trunks? _Smooth_ trunks? Even early theropods have large
claws, and Archie was no exception.

  I do kinda like the ground up theory in which the ancestral
dinosaur, (oh, say, *Eoraptor*; we'll call it a "whatever" for now,
pending Holtz and Padian) scrambled up trees to get at bugs and flying
lizards, with perfectly adapted wrists, and spawning the terrestrial
lineage that kept that multi-task function of the hand, and later
spawned birds, who adapted (okay, exapted) the wrist to fly. Birds are
spawned by arboreal "whatevers", and terrestrial theropods arose from
arboreal "whatevers". Thus birds were both ground-up and trees-down,
but that's just one possible take on things.

Jaime A. Headden

Qilong, the website, at:
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