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Curved claws hint at pterosaur habits

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11:10am, October 22, 2002

From Norman, Okla., at a meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

A study of the claws of ancient flying reptiles known as pterosaurs suggests that some of the creatures may have walked like present-day herons and used claws on their wings to hold prey.

In modern birds, claw curvature is closely correlated with the animal's behavior, says David A. Krauss, a paleobiologist at Boston College. Birds that cling to and climb the sides of trees, like woodpeckers and nuthatches, have strongly curved claws. Birds that walk on the ground, like shorebirds, have relatively straight claws. Perching birds have claw curvature that lies between that of walkers and climbers, Krauss notes.

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