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Re: Velociraptor scavenged azhdarchid pterosaur

On Tue, Mar 6th, 2012 at 4:28 PM, Tim Williams <tijawi@gmail.com> wrote:

> _Velociraptor_ forelimbs were poorly adapted for grasping or
> manipulating small prey.  Either _Velociraptor_'s forelimbs were
> adapted for grasping large prey with both hands; or they were not used
> to grasp prey at all (unlikely in my view).  

I quite like the idea that dromaeosaur forelimbs could have been used as 
stabilising 'wings' during 
prey-climbing. If the forelimbs did have aerodynamic feathered surfaces, then 
it would seem that 
employing them physically during predation would have risked damaging the 
feathers. That might 
explain the development of weaponry on the feet, and perhaps even the increased 
in the hind limbs due to the musculature having been decoupled from the tail. 
You could call if the 
Sebulba Hypothesis. :-)

The pose of the 'fighting dinosaurs' Velociraptor is highly reminiscent of 
those that extant raptors 
use when fighting amongst themselves. They try to put their feet in between 
them and their 
opponent, keeping the head and wings as far away from the action as possible. 
When fighting on 
the ground, the losing bird will often lay on it's back and present its talons 
in the air to ward off the 
stronger bird (a similar tactic employed by cats). This seems to be what the 
Velociraptor in the 
fighting pair is doing, which might suggest that the fight wasn't going its way.

> Add to this the recent
> studies which suggest that the sickle-claws were specialized for
> climbing prey, or gripping and pinning down prey from above.  Either
> way, _Velociraptor_ preferred prey of comparable or larger size.  So
> the hypothesis that the "fighting dinosaurs" was a consequence of
> _Velociraptor_ attacking _Protoceratops_ (rather than the other way
> round) seems to be the most parsimonious explanation, by far.

Regardless of who attacked who (and why) it would seem that a lone Velociraptor 
and a lone 
Protoceratops were a fairly even match. A group of Velociraptors could no doubt 
have taken on a 
lone Protoceratops. Then again, I wouldn't want to be a lone Velociraptor 
encountering a group of 


Dann Pigdon
Spatial Data Analyst               Australian Dinosaurs
Melbourne, Australia               http://home.alphalink.com.au/~dannj