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Archaeopteryx grasping? (was Re: Akidolestes (Cretaceous symmetrodont mammal) postcranial skeleton)



Matthew Martyniuk <martyniuk@gmail.com> wrote:

> Has anybody actually suggested that these forms gripped small branches
> with the manus?


Have you read "Dinosaurs of the Air" by Gregory S. Paul?   :-)

Here's a few quotes from DA/GSP regarding _Archaeopteryx_, to
exemplify the point (p163-164): "the hands had long, supple fingers";
"well-developed grasping abilities of its arms and feet."; "The best
modern avian analog for _Archaeopteryx_ is the famous juvenile
hoatzin"

I'm on the record as being particularly unenthusiastic about using the
hoatzin chick as an analog for alleged tree-climbing behavior in
_Archaeopteryx_ behavior - just as I'm equally unenthusiastic about
using partridge chicks to reconstruct hypothetical incipient flight
behavior in winged theropods (a la WAIR).


> That would be quite a trick when most of your longest
> digit is bound up in a wing.


Ironically, although the BANDits regard critters such as
_Archaeopteryx_ and _Microraptor_ as 100% arboreal, they don't believe
that the hands were used for grasping branches.  This is because they
claim that the entire manus was bound up in the wing, with no "free"
digits.  For example, Martin & Czerkas (2000): "The inability to grasp
objects with its hands, coupled with enlarged and highly recurved
claws, is strong evidence for the use of the hand claws as climbing
spikes rather than for prey capture."  The BANDits also believe that
the feet of _Archaeopteryx_ and relatives were capable of perching, so
grasping forelimbs would not be necessary under this scenario.





Cheers

Tim