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Evidence from Claw Geometry Indicating Arboreal Habits of Archaeopteryx

Alan Feduccia
Science
New Series, Vol. 259, No. 5096 (Feb. 5, 1993), pp. 790-793
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2880833
Page Count: 4
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Evidence from Claw Geometry Indicating Arboreal Habits of Archaeopteryx
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Abstract

The Late Jurassic Archaeopteryx has been thought to have been a feathered predator adapted to running that represented a terrestrial stage in the evolution of true birds from coelurosaurian dinosaurs. Examination of claw geometry, however, shows that (i) modern ground- and tree-dwelling birds can be distinguished on the basis of claw curvature, in that greater claw arcs characterize tree-dwellers and trunk-climbers, and (ii) the claws of the pes (hind foot) and manus (front hand) of Archaeopteryx exhibit degrees of curvature typical of perching and trunk-climbing birds, respectively. On this basis, Archaeopteryx appears to have been a perching bird, not a cursorial predator.

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