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RE: Sickle Claws (was "a little background")

Waylon Rowley wrote:

> > I've often commented on the similarity in shape 
> > between said sickle claws, and the beaks of "true" 
> > raptors. Perhaps they were used more for tearing 
> > apart a carcass than for killing
> Or maybe they were pouncing weapons. Instead of flying
> down on a prey item like a modern "raptor", the
> smaller varieties might jump from a tree onto the
> unfortunate lizard or mammal scurrying around in the
> underbrush (I've always favored this scenario).

Ah, now we're getting somewhere.  And what if we had small maniraptorans
with (1) elongated halluces to assist in tree-climbing and (2) pinnate
feathers on the limbs and tail to assist in parachuting descents.  Oh, wait,
we do! :-)

Mr Rowley, I think you've pin-pointed *exactly* what _Microraptor_ and the
ancestors of birds used their sickle-claws for: pouncing from trees onto
small prey below.



Timothy J. Williams 

USDA-ARS Researcher 
Agronomy Hall 
Iowa State University 
Ames IA 50014 

Phone: 515 294 9233 
Fax:   515 294 3163