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Re: DINOSAUR digest 3467
Interesting topic of research would be detailed
analysis of skull of Oviraptor. Several years ago
analysis of skull of Gastrornis/Diatryma showed, that
it was adapted to stresses much bigger than required
for cracking nuts, and differently acting, so creature
was, indeed, a predator.
The even more recent mihirung book suggests herbivory in spite of all this.
Because *Gastornis* was so strong it could have eaten starch-rich palm
hearts, for example.
Also hand and finger mobility of oviraptorids would be
interesting. I wonder if hand was mobile and grasping,
or like Archeopteryx, a kind of proto-wing with only
claws free, useless for anything but display.
In *Archaeopteryx* and *Confuciusornis* the thumb and the 3rd finger were
free and certainly used for grasping. Wing fingers attach to the 2nd finger
(and metacarpal) only. The thumb was cranial to the wing, the 3rd finger
ventral to it. This is identical to the hand of *Deinonychus*, except that
the latter has stronger fingers (like *Oviraptor*) and a bigger thumb claw
(like *Oviraptor* and *Confuciusornis*), and the presence of wing feathers
is of course unknown.
Myself I always imagined Oviraptor as medium-sized
sprinting predator, similar to cheetah.
Cheetahs have much more extreme cursorial adaptations, don't they? Plus, the
beak really looks all wrong for this...