I'm certain that every reader who has put up with me this far is thinking about the famous Velociraptor versus Protoceratops fossil where both died locked in mortal combat, proving the function of the slashing claw. Yes, the poor Raptor was using its foot, but probably as a defensive weapon! After all, it was probably trying to raid a nest for a meal of one-bite babies when it was attacked by one of those angry herbivores alluded to above. The large slashing claw on the cassowary is a good example of such a weapon evolving purely for defensive purposes. These birds are incredibly dangerous when trapped in close quarters although they are more likely to run away than take chances with their valuable legs in a battle. It makes sense to risk an incapacitating injury only if the alternative is being eaten.
If you are uncomfortable with these magnificent structures solely serving a protective function, what could be a more likely use? Why, sex of course. Many of the most extravagant and bizarre structures in nature are primarily used to attract a mate or to intimidate rivals. A set of large claws could be very useful for displaying to a potential mate or for ritualized combat. Look at the modern rooster, possessing impressive and dangerous spurs, but hardly famed as a fierce hunter.
While on the subject of brain function, I have to add that the concept of Raptors hunting in organized packs inspires incredulity. No reptile, or bird for that matter possesses the social structure to accomplish that and it is doubtful that Dinosaurs with relatively small brain-to-body mass ratios could have pulled it off. Now I have been told that Harris Hawks do cooperate in flushing and capturing prey, so I guess that anything is possible, but the level of strategizing and communication during a hunt depicted in modern media is not seen in any sort of animal not human or at least as closely related as a chimpanzee. Swarming on common prey is observed with many animals including crocodilians, large lizards and vultures, although it isn't truly cooperative social behavior. Finding fossils showing a group of Deinonychus with one large herbivore certainly doesn't prove or even imply social structure any more than finding a collection of flies around a dead rat.
One of the great joys of science is
the evidence available. The Raptors are a fascinating group that
truly deserves tremendous attention. All too often it seems that
one view of fragmentary data becomes accepted as gospel and is repeated
over and over as fact. The most obvious or exciting
is not always the correct one. It is always fun to keep
even if you get branded a heretic.
This is the "Tiny Perfect Dinosaur" Velociraptor that comes as a kit in an egg. The plastic is a bit too
flexible to allow much modification in pose, but a coat of paint
elevates its status to more than a toy.
More about this and many other model skeletons can be seen at the new pages of this website,
THE OLD BONE ODORI
This is a 1:3 scale kit from Wiccart's Steve Harvey. He modified the Deinonychus skull that was sculpted by Lasha Tschkondia for Ants. Steve also produced kits of an upper and lower limb for this beast, based on Ostrum's Monograph. The original plan was to make a complete skeleton and someday he may even finish that project. Unfortunately, it won't be any time soon. I do have both of those kits and will post pictures when I get around to building them.
More pictures and information on this and other kits
can be seen at THE
OLD BONE ODORI
This is Wiccart's 1:2 scale skull with the 1:35 scale in-the-flesh Oviraptor from the Tamiya "Mesozoic Creatures" kit.
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