September 11, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

Velociraptors as Tree Climbers?

Remember those sickle-shaped claws on the feet of Velociraptor that terrified visitors in the Jurassic Park movies?  New Scientist reported a radically different theory about them.  They weren’t for eviscerating their prey; they were for climbing trees.  Phil Manning (U of Manchester) previously showed they were insufficient for tearing dinosaur skin.  Now he is suggesting the animals used the claws as hooks to climb up into the trees.
    Not everyone is buying into the idea.  A serious problem is that much heavier dinosaurs like Utahraptor also possessed the claws.

We should avoid jumping to conclusions about extinct animals we cannot observe.  There are no velociraptors around to see how they used those claws.  There are just fallible humans proposing various ideas that cannot be scientifically tested other than to support whether or not such things were physically possible.  Still, it is interesting to think that Jurassic Park may have the story completely wrong.  Maybe Velociraptor was the sloth of its day.

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Categories: Dinosaurs

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