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RE: New Mesozoic bird papers (advance publication)

> Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2010 15:51:09 +1100
> From: tijawi@gmail.com
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Re: New Mesozoic bird papers (advance publication)
> Which brings me to this: "When birds developed an effective backstroke
> permitting easy ascent from flat surfaces, the need for manual claws
> disappeared, which would suggest that they were primarily used for
> climbing tree trunks and had little function in prey capture."
> I fail to see why manual claws couldn't be used for *both* climbing
> and prey capture - especially among the first birds. After all, if
> _Velociraptor_ had feathered forelimbs (based on the presence of quill
> knobs), and used its forelimbs in prey capture - why couldn't some
> early birds have done the same? Although I'm not suggesting that
> birds attacked large prey the way _Velociraptor_ did.

If the claws were used for something other than climbing, why were they lost at 
the same time birds developed the ability to ascend without climbing?  It's 
obviously not an airtight deduction, but still an interesting observation to 
think about, especially if the correlated claw reduction + improved backstroke 
evolved more than once in different bird clades (did it?  I haven't read the 
paper yet either).