Monday, October 08, 2007

Tyrannosaurus rex has three fingers?!

Kudos to Scott Elyard to pointing this one out to me. As he notes on his website, the implications for paleo-artists like him and I are fairly obvious.

http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2007AM/finalprogram/abstract_132345.htm

Now, a few questions immediately come to mind.
1) Why does the third finger never fossilize?
2) Does this mean that other tyrannosaurs, like Albertosaurus and Daspletosaurus have three fingers, too?
3) What was the construction of this third finger like? Would it have been useful?
4) Would the third finger have been visible outsid the skin? Did it have a claw?

Oh, my head is swimming with conjectures now.

Also, congratulations to Brian Switek of Laelaps fame, on his move to that most esteemed of science blogging sites, ScienceBlogs. I have updated the blogroll, so upon clicking "Laelaps" on the right, you will be taken to his new site. On his recommendation, I shall continue posting well-written pieces on paleo and continue submitting my blog to ScienceBlogs in hopes of someday joining him!

3 comments:

Scott said...

1. I dunno.
2. I dunno.
3. I dunno.
4. Hell if I know.

Pretty damned interesting, though, no?

Amanda said...

Oh man!!! I was gonna blog about that :) Oh well..I'm moving to my own domain and it's taking a lot of work, so I don't think I woulda found the time anyway. It's interesting, though...I had all the same questions.

Wish I were going to that conference...

Brian said...

Hmm, interesting. I'd like to see more detail about this. I actually have a replica of a T. rex hand with a vestigial third digit and have seen Gorgosaurus skeletons with a vestigial third as well, so I'm wondering if the specimen described is more of a fluke than the rule for the species (i.e. something during development allowed for the growth of the 3rd finger when it's normally suppressed). Indeed, it could be an atavism, but this then would show that the # of fingers in T. rex is constrained by developmental changes and not totally eliminated.