STL Science Center

STL Science Center

27 November 2013

Grasping Hands For Grabbing You Up

©Shelley Kornatz (Eykoart)
There are a lot of things that have not yet been discussed in terms of Compsognathus, though the papers yesterday and the discussions about feathers have given us quite a lot to talk about already. Regardless, one thing that has not been mentioned and cannot be ignored is the hand anatomy of a dinosaur like Compsognathus. Early German specimens appeared to possess only two digits, while later French specimens have three digits clearly seen. The third digit, Digit I, was short and incompletely preserved in the German specimens, but the implications of the digit arrangement is that the hand appears to possess the ability to grasp prey. Grasping hands certainly appear in the Maniraptoriformes and in the earliest relatives of birds. The grasping ability of the forebears of the Maniraptoriformes are sometimes used to differentiate theropods as well. Regardless of how the character is used, it is fairly evident in Compsognathus and a lot about the diet can therefore be conjectured at including the ability of the dinosaur to grasp and eat its prey rather than having to relay on jaw muscles and teeth alone.

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