Velociraptors probably didn’t use their ‘wicked’ claws for slashing, surprising new study suggests

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The wicked curved claw of the red-legged seriema (Cariama cristata) is held off the ground so that it always stays sharp.  (Image credit: Courtesy FossilCrates/Brian Curtice )

Deinonychus and its dino relatives may not have used their wicked, curved claws to slash and disembowel their victims; instead, these fearsome hunters may have used these claws to pin and grasp their helpless prey. 

In new research, scientists observed the red-legged seriema (Cariama cristata), a South American predatory bird that stalks small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects and which has a sharp, curved claw that sits above the ground, much like Deinonychus, Velociraptor, Utahraptor and other “raptor” dinosaurs. Two captive seriemas — Ellie at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium, and Safari Park in Phoenix, Arizona, and Ernie at the Tracy Aviary and Botanical Gardens in Salt Lake City, Utah — were observed pinning and grasping prey and unfamiliar objects with these sharp claws.

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