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Re: The Epidendrosaurus and aye-aye

Thought I'd chime in.

>on 10/6/02 9:04 PM, Daniel Bensen at dbensen@bowdoin.edu wrote:

> Yeah, well, it may be developmental, but HP Marjanovic reminded me that
> having a third finger longer than the others is just weird no matter how
> you cut.  So there should be _some_ functional reason as to why that
> digit is long.  The only two I can think of are grub-grabbing and
> feather-support (although as HP Paul says, most dinosaurs supported the
> feather from digit two).   Hmmm---maybe some sort of insect-capturing
> device.  :)  Hmm, like they thought about Archaeopteryx?  :)

I would say that the elongated third finger is an early offshot of flight.
Before Archie when bird were first experimenting. A small group tried
attaching the flight feathers to the third digit instead of the second,
leaving the second digit free for grasping. These creatures are just the
remnants of a branch that eventually died out. Perhapse they couldn't
compete, the third finger couldn't be as reinforcd as the second (in birds)
so they weren't as stable in flight thus eventually going extinct.

While I find this interesting, it's not relly that shocking. Just imagine
the other failed attempts.

I watched the Aye-Aye on the TV the other day. The animal uses a complex
technique for finding food (ears, nose, teeth AND finger) Epidendrosaurus
doesn't seam specilized enough to do the same thing. That third finger needs
to be really thin and it needs some way of getting to the grubs and some way
of locating them. 

Just my view on it.