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RE: Evidence For a Feathered Velociraptor...

> From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu] 
> On Behalf Of Tim Williams
> Turner &c. are a little more circumspect, saying "This [quill 
> knobs in _Velociraptor_] raises the possibility that ulnar 
> papillar reduction or absence in large-bodied derived 
> dromaeosaurids reflects loss of aerodynamic capabilities from 
> the clade's ancestral members.  Quill knobs in _Velociraptor_ 
> could reflect retention of feathers from smaller possibly 
> volant ancestors, but such feathers may have had other 
> functions."  The way I read it, "aerodynamic capabilities" 
> could mean powered flight, or something less demanding in 
> terms of aerial behavior (e.g., parachuting, gliding).  


> However, it raises interesting questions as to *why* 
> _Velociraptor_ actually retained feathers on its arms.  For a 
> predator that used its hands to grasp prey, what use would 
> feathers be?  I'd have thought that long forelimb feathers 
> would be as useful as tits on a bull.  In other words, worse 
> than useless.  Wouldn't forelimb feathers be an almighty 
> hindrance when the predator was grappling with prey (a la the 
> _Velociraptor_ vs _Protoceratops_ fighting dinosaurs)?   

Depends on the orientation and length of the secondaries, mostly.
Dromaeosaurid arm motions would be relative constrained, like birds, so as
long as the feathers are oriented in such a way as not to bang up too much,
they should be a problem. After all, some birds flap their arms rather fast
and vigorously without the feathers getting in the way.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216                        
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
Fax: 301-314-9661               

Faculty Director, Earth, Life & Time Program, College Park Scholars
Fax: 301-405-0796

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
                        Building 237, Room 1117
                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA