Hadrosaur hands

Many moons ago I wrote a short post on the pedal unguals of hadrosaurs and in it I mentioned jsut how similar they are to those of the hand. To prove that point, here is a hadrosaurs hand that can be contrasted the the foot from the link above. It’s worth remembering that for a long time the ornithopods (that is hadrosaurs and igunaodontians) were considered proper bipeds and not the facultative bipeds we think of them now.

Obviously it’s not like people *didn’t* think about this when they came up with the hypothesis, but one does have to wonder a bit quite what they did think these hands were good for if they weren’t walking on them, especially when they are so obviously similar to the feet which were being walked on. Swimming doesn’t really fit or the toes would be longer and more widely spaced out, and I’m not aware of any other hypotheses that were floating around. Even so, it’s remarkable how some things cling on in the collective conciousness and I still come across the idea that hadrosaurs were semi-aquatic though I think this bit the dust in the 60s if not before.

3 Responses to “Hadrosaur hands”


  1. 1 Zach Miller 27/04/2011 at 9:23 pm

    That spade-shaped middle ungual, which seems to be present in a lot of duckbills, always confused me. I imagine the roughed “wings” were attached to soft tissue. I feel like I should know this off the top of my head, but were hadrosaur hands encased in a meaty “mitten?” I’ve always drawn the hand as more or less a single unit, without individual fingers. Kind of like a sauropod manus, but smaller and thinner.

    • 2 David Hone 27/04/2011 at 10:05 pm

      Obviously you want soft tissues preserved, but that is the ungual and I can’t see much attaching to it but the claw. A flat and spade-shaped claw, but one none-the-less. Behind it, yeah the finger might be quite fat, but don’t forget that claws can be huge compared the the fingers they are on (think anteaters).

  2. 3 Tim Donovan 28/04/2011 at 6:35 pm

    “..I think this bit the dust in the 60s…”

    Sure, Ostrom questioned the aquatic hadrosaur notion in his 1963 A reconsideration of the paleoecology of the hadrosaurian dinosaurs.


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