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Re: Claws on deinonychosaurs

At 01:27 PM 1/11/2005, Tim Williams wrote:
Patrick Norton wrote:

When I think of how dromies may have used their enlarged pedal claws, I remember a cock fight I saw years ago in which gamecocks, each having a 2" recurved bladelike device called a gaff
affixed to their feet, were placed in a pen and allowed to fight. In those fights, the birds >attacked one another viciously and expertly with their feet. The primary killing tools in those fights were the gaffs which they used very effectively to slash one another to shreds, although
stabbing with the beak was also used. Incidentally, at the same time, the wings were used to aid in leaping attacks and to fluster the opponent. Some might say this is the result of training, but I was told that there is very little training required at all. The birds are abused and drugged to
increase their aggressiveness, but they take naturally to using the gaffs as killing tools.

Sounds like fun for all the family. And to think, all those wasted nights I spent at home watching the tube - I could've been out witnessing a bloodthirsty demonstration of animal cruelty.

Agreed, sounds nasty... Obviously this shouldn't be supported, but gleaning info from knowing that it occurs should be no worse than forensic scientists learning from violent crime (obviously, they don't support that activity either), though perhaps that's a tenuous link. (gee I wish I looked as cool as those CSI guys!).

All in all (absent the abuse and drugs), this seems to me like a reasonable model for how Dromies
used their equipment.

The sickle-claw sounds like overkill (no pun intended) for intraspecific combat. It just so happens that in his Dinosaur Heresies book, Bob Bakker has an illustration of two _Deinonychus_ engaged in combat in almost exactly the same manner you describe - each with its sickle-claws deployed to inflict damage upon the other.

This obviously leads into the topic of the evolution of safer intraspecific dueling adaptations, such as selection for locking horns rather than sharp stabbing horns in certain lineages of animals (particularly herbivores that live in large groups), though I'm no expert on this. I'm sure anyone into ceratopsians could add something here.


Chris Glen
PhD candidate,
School of Biomedical Science
Anatomy and Developmental Biology Dept.,
University of Queensland
Room: 418
Phone: (07) 3365 2720
Mob: 0408 986 301
Email: c.glen@.uq.edu.au
\_ \ / ,\
||| |||\_`###==-
"" ""
Returning home after a hard day of
dodging dinosaur feet and droppings,
only to find their burrow trampled,
one Late Mesozoic mammal says to an other :
"Hey, a falling star, make a wish."