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RE: Velociraptor scavenged azhdarchid pterosaur
Not to repeat too much of what was said on the weekend...
-- Not only some vultures, but also komodo dragons are known to swallow clean
bones. Bone is just protein with calcium phosphate around it; if your stomach
acid can take the calcium phosphate off, bone is just connective tissue.
-- I don't know of any mammals that _swallow_ clean bones; but Tasmanian devils
chew entire animals up, leaving nothing. I've watched a documentary where a
Tassie devil eats a kangaroo tail like a sausage.
-- On the topic of predators attacking large prey, flight give big eagles a
great advantage when it comes to attacking _very_ large prey like reindeer or
young cattle: the force of impact can drive their claws into the prey's
braincase, killing it. (Peregrine falcons similarly kill pigeons by the force
of impact, which happens at 80 km/h.) The only reason eagles don't do this more
often is that they can't fly away with large prey, they'd have to eat it on the
spot and expose themselves to larger predators/competitors. *Harpagornis* was
the exception that proved the rule. (And, moa braincases being too small, it
seems to have pierced the pelvis and damaged the kidneys instead.)
-- I finally had a look at the RPR paper. Fig. 8 (
will show you fig. 1, click on fig. 8 in the left sidebar) is amazing: the
first toe is positioned so that the claw tips converge, it is not strictly
parallel to the others or to the metatarsus -- and yet, it would be useless for
grasping a branch that wasn't at something like 30° to the metatarsus (not much
more, not much less). How much do the feet of *Microraptor* and *Archaeopteryx*
differ from this?
-- That paper is the first to mention that *Velociraptor* was not in fact
heavier than the heaviest extant flying birds.
-- ...What are the PLoS people thinking? Why does an online-only journal
differentiate between main text and supplementary text -- the latter of which
is only provided in the MS Word format it was submitted in?!? I mean, I have
Word, so I've read the delicious trouncing of the "climbing crampon" paper and
all the other hidden goodness, but in principle this arrangement strikes me as
stupid. There are no length restrictions! There is no paper to run out of!