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RE: New Mesozoic bird papers (advance publication)

Just out of curiosity, is there any sort of inverse correlation between degree 
of arm-feathering/'quality-of-flight' characteristics and presence/size of 
claws in fossil remains?  In other words, is there reason to expect that the 
amount and type of feathering that would be associated with increasing ability 
to fly would be compatible with using the hands/claws to capture prey?  I've 
seen wings used to buffet and distract small prey, but I'm not sure I would 
expect a winged arm to be terribly good at snatching at small prey, as opposed 
to an unwinged or less-feathered arm.  If this has been explored in the 
literature already, I of course apologize for wasting the list's time!  Note 
that as a gradual convert to the BADD side, dating back to the arguments on 
this list some 20 years ago, I am assuming that discussion of avians still 
falls under the purview of the DML...
--- On Fri, 12/17/10, Brad McFeeters <archosauromorph2@hotmail.com> wrote:

From: Brad McFeeters <archosauromorph2@hotmail.com>
Subject: RE: New Mesozoic bird papers (advance publication)
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Date: Friday, December 17, 2010, 12:10 AM

> 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).