ForexTV NewsDesk | September 21 2011 6:24 EDT
ForexTV.com (New York) by staff Reporter
In a twist of fate, and good fortune, Doctoral student Mike Knell stumbled upon one of the most fascinating raptor dinosaur discoveries in North America. While searching for fossil turtles in Utah in 2008, Knell unearthed what has come to be called Talos sampsonsi, a six-foot-long troodontid theropods (small, bird-like predators) that roamed the North American continent over 76 million years ago.
Raptor Dinosaur Used Blade-like Talon to Slash its Quarry?
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 debated the purpose of the claw. Theories vary on the function of the claw; it has been suggested that it was used for climbing, was a natural weapon to attack its prey or defend itself or even that it was used by Talos to groom itself.
Scientists conducted a CT scan on the specimen’s injured toe bone and discovered that it was likely caused by a bite from an enemy and that it was a significant injury. .
Upon further deduction the scientists reasoned that if Talos used the toe in the normal course of locomotion (walking, climbing or running), it would likely have been forced to limp due to the extreme trauma. This would in turn have caused significant skeletal changes in the raptor according to Zanno.
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 stabbing weapon 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.
It's "giving us a window into the biology of the animal that we don't get from your average, everyday specimen," Zanno said.
Forex research by ForexTV.com