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HISTORY OF TREE-CLIMBING THEROPODS



Given some of the recent discussion on DML about possible 
scansorial (tree-climbing) behavior in non-avian theropods, 
I thought some people might find the following interesting. 
The claim that no, or hardly any, workers have favoured the 
notion of tree-climbing theropods is not so. In the following 
little-known articles...

Naish, D. 2000. Theropod dinosaurs in the trees: a historical 
review of arboreal habits amongst nonavian theropods. 
_Archaeopteryx_ 18, 35-41.

- . 2000. 130 years of tree-climbing dinosaurs: 
Archaeopteryx, 'arbrosaurs' and the origin of avian flight. 
_Quart. J. Dinosaur Soc._ 4 (1), 20-23.

... I listed and reviewed all comments in the literature on 
possible scansoriality among non-avian theropods. In 
chronological order, the following workers favoured or 
suggested the existence of tree-climbing theropods 
(fictional works are excluded); Fox (1866a, b); Swinton 
(1936a); Rozhdestvensky (1970); Galton (1971a, b); Paul 
(1988a, 2002); Olshevsky (1991, 1994); Bakker (1993); 
Nessov (1995); Palm (1997); Chatterjee (1997, 1999). 

Note that Fox's articles were as early as 1866, that Swinton 
(populariser of the arboreal _Hypsilophodon_ model) liked 
the idea of tree-climbing theropods, and that Galton 
admitted that scansoriality for small theropods was possible, 
even though he had just debunked the arboreal 
_Hypsilophodon_. A poll of those who work on theropods 
today would _probably_ show that most workers think tree-
climbing was possible for small coelurosaurs, and the 
obstacles that have been proposed are largely erroneous. 

In much the same way that many noted palaeontologists are 
now more than happy to promote feathery non-avian 
dinosaurs (note that these are the same palaeontologists who 
had previously condemned such ideas as Bakkerian 
nonsense), recent and future discoveries will probably lead 
to universal acceptance of the idea of tree-climbing 
theropods.

-- 
Darren Naish
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of Portsmouth UK, PO1 3QL

email: darren.naish@port.ac.uk
tel: 023 92846045