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Fwd: Eric Snively on sickle-claws

This is being forwarded for Eric Snively

Some predatory birds I work with give dramatic analogies similar to [G 
Paul's] on cats, but maybe with a closer morphological parallel in terms of 
size and shape. We have 
a resident great horned owl that once tried to jump from my arm to his perch 
inside a plexiglass case. They're quite acrobatic; he usually makes it and was 
unphased by the clear wall in his way, and so unfortunately biffed it against 
the side of the case. I maintained hold of his jesses during the leap, and 
reached over with my other hand to 
lift his feet onto the gloved. Between this action and the owl getting his 
balance we managed to slice my fingers open. This was from grazing the flesh 
against the side of the claw, with the two of us applying incidental pressure. 
(Once I got him onto his perch and cleaned up the wounds, the only remnant 
damage was to our egos.)
    It seems that a dromaeosaur could slash down through flesh, with some 
force and casually complex modulation on a sharp surface somewhere on the 
keratinous sheath, even if they could also grip well with simpler flexion. Red 
hawks with pointy claws can grip your finger between the ungual and 
penultimate phalanx (quite a scary 
feeling), and great horned owls and bald eagles can perforate tough leather 
gloves AND slash despite having blunter claws with larger cross-sections. 
Carefully controlled experiments may sometimes miss the blood and dirt of 
with motivated animals.