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Re: 11th specimen of Archaeopteryx‏

The reason French is not the universal language is because the French Academe frowns on absorbing words from other languages, and probably frowns as you do on metaphoric usages, whereas English, broad sloppy language that it is, happily admits words from everywhere and welcomes usages with metaphoric abandon, which is why it has some pretensions to being a universal language. Linguistically speaking, most language is metaphor. You are sweeping back the tide if you seek rigor where there is none. (Nevertheless, remember to set your clock back tonight!)
Scott Perry
High Mountain Writers' House
Irasburg, VT 05845
----- Original Message ----- From: "Jaime Headden" <qi_leong@hotmail.com>
To: <ssselberg@hotmail.com>; "Dinosaur Mailing List" <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2011 11:40 PM
Subject: RE: 11th specimen of Archaeopteryx‏

This requires that the "sickle claw" gave any sort of benefit to keeping an animal upright when it stood on a branch -- or, more accurately, kept the animal upright while _sleeping_ on a perch. The latter is achieved in modern birds by a specialized tendon that connects to the hallux that "locks" the digit in place. The foreward toes are wrapped around the front, the back toe wraps around back, and the animal stays on the branch without falling off while it sleeps. This is "perching."

It is probably very inappropriate to term "sitting in a tree" as "perching," although the term is so casually used for normative in-tree behavior (monkeys "perching," humans "perched" atop a thing) due to a lackadaisical way of associating terms with position without any recourse to their anatomical meaning. You get this in fiction [genre] a lot, where terms are "adapted" to suit the use of some sense the author wants to apply, without actually understanding the term.

If a dromaeosaur or any sort of non-avialaean theropod without such a tendon-locking mechanism were to try to sit in a tree, it might find itself with the problem of trying to sty upright when falling asleep. This doesn't impair _climbing_, but it does any other sort of behavior. Nesting, squatting, or whatever else without having to sit on a branch is fine, but that means one must be more selective about your "perch," and cannot just climb into a bush.


 Jaime A. Headden
 The Bite Stuff (site v2)

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)

Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2011 17:43:03 +0000
From: ssselberg@hotmail.com
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: 11th specimen of Archaeopteryx‏

Isn't it possible that the sickle claw could have allowed basal deinonychosaurs to perch? If so, wouldn't that have made a reversed hallux redundant, and also allowed the third and fourth toes to retain their more corsorial proportions? Or perhaps these animals were more in the habit of
clinging to tree trunks than perching?
I think that the reason so many people put some maniraptors in trees (besides the "if it looks like a duck..." intuitive sense of it) is that it's hard to believe that animals as adaptable they appear to be would NOT have invaded the canopy when so many others have. If snakes and frogs existed only as fossils, would anyone be postulating tree-snakes and tree-frogs? And even if I'm wrong about the sickle claw and perching, aren't fossils of arboreal creatures very rare, making it possible that most of the fossils we have found were the more terrestrial species of what may have been more arboreal groups?

Scott Selberg