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Re: Terrestriality is a bias

All the references I've checked indicate that the Aye Aye's elongated digit
is an adaptation for feeding (reaching into holes in trees to extract
larvae) not for arborealty. It is unique among all arboreal lemurs in having
that modification.  If that's the case, how does your analogy support
arborealty in this new little dinosaur?

Just to note that it is not unique in mammals, though - the Striped Possum Dactylopsila trivirgata of northern Australia has a quite similar modification, an elongate fourth finger used to extract wood-boring beetle larvae. It, too, is arboreal (though the only one I ever saw was a roadkill!).

I would be inclined to think that a similar modiication in a fossil might well be evidence for at least a partially arboreal habit, but of course it might also be useful for extracting grubs from fallen logs or termites from terrestrial mounds (if these existed at the time). A similar adaptation, in a way, might be the habit of chimpanzees, which use a thin twig to extract termites from mounds on the ground.

Ronald I. Orenstein Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2 mailto:ornstn@home.com