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Why I Have a Bird Phobia

September 22, 2011
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National Geographic

It is called  Talos sampsoni.  It has lethal talons.  It had feathers.  It shredded its prey.  It once lived in Utah.

“…Perhaps most exciting about Talos is its injured second toe, which has added to an existing debate on what troodontids did with the giant, sickle-like claw on that toe, study leader Zanno said.

Paleontologists have offered opposing explanations for the claw, for example that it helped troodontids climb, acted as a weapon in killing prey or fighting foes, or even enabled the dinosaur to clean itself.

When the scientists analyzed Talos’s injured toe bone via a CT scanner, they found a mark that indicated that the injury—possibly caused by a bite from another animal—had been traumatic.

Assuming the dinosaur used the talon when walking, such a serious injury would’ve caused Talos to limp on that leg, which in turn would’ve caused obvious changes to the skeleton’s structure, Zanno noted.

Instead, “we found the complete opposite,” she said—the skeleton was otherwise unscathed.

This strengthens the theory that the raptor dinosaur carried its giant toe off the ground—an idea already supported by raptor tracks that lack claw marks, according to the study, published September 19 in the journal PLoS ONE.

Instead, Talos may have wielded its claw like a puncturing device when hunting, for example by getting a foothold as the raptor scrambled up a larger animal’s back, Zanno said. Or, like some modern-day birds, the dinosaur may have used the claw as a weapon while fighting with other dinosaur rivals. (Take a dinosaur quiz.)

It’s “giving us a window into the biology of the animal that we don’t get from your average, everyday specimen,” Zanno said….”

And people don’t understand why I have a bird phobia.

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