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Re: feathers, pistons, etc. (and tails)

Pat Grant (Library: Serials Catalog wrote:
> So, dromies were probably feathered, great.  Would they be able to
> preen feathers on those long, stiff tails?  (How much flex, and in
> which direction(s), would the tails have had?  Enough to bring the
> putative feathers into contact with teeth, hands or feet?  Not that
> they were necessarily limited to using those extremities, but they
> seem most likely.)

Modern long tailed birds (pheasants, peafowl) manage quite well, and
they rely on tail displays being in good condition in order to
increase their chances of mating. I believe dromaeosaur tails were
quite flexable at the base (which they would have had to be if
they were to sit up dog-style on those pubes), and they generally
had fairly long (and one would assume flexible) necks. Long feathers
(beyond the fuzzy ratite variety) tend to be expensive structures
to maintain, so you can be sure that any creature that has them
would also be able to preen them properly. Have you ever seen a cat
cleaning its chest? It's almost painful just to watch!

Regarding dromaeosaur tails, I have always wondered how large the
tails of hatchlings were. Would they have been born with flexible
tails (which might indicate a difficulty in getting around soon
after birth), and if not, how did they manage to fit them into the
egg? Would the tails of hatchlings have perhaps been relatively smaller
than an adults? Personally I suspect that dromaeosaur tail ossification
(if I've got the correct term here) probably did not occur until
some time after hatching. But then again I might not know squat.

        Dann Pigdon
        GIS Archaeologist
        Melbourne, Australia

        Australian Dinosaurs: