Pedal unguals

Unguals, as regular readers will know, are the often specialised bones on the end of the digits that support keratin sheaths, or in other words – claws. The unguals I’ve shown on here before have tended to have a classic ‘claw’ shaped, though of course there are more to them than this. Here are the pedal unguals of a hadrosaur which can really only be described as a hoof.

As you can see they are broad and flattened and well rounded towards the tip. There’s also quite a lot of texture to the bone which you don’t see in other phalanges (or other claws usually). That shape is going to give a good solid contact with the ground during locomotion and help spread out the animal’s considerable weight, especially on softer ground. Incidentally, the manual unguals of hadrosaurs and iguanodontids are pretty similar in shape to those of the feet which is a good reason for thinking they were walking on all fours at least a fair amount of time unlike older bipedal-only depictions.

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