Form and function

Bird and dinosaur feet are similar. We can learn about behaviour such as feeding from the shape of the feet and claws.

Three bird feet are lined up: a goose’s foot with small rounded claws and webbing between its toes; A black raven’s foot, small in comparison to the other two with pointy hooked claws; and an eagle’s foot with large talons and long pointy claws.

Ildiko: So one of the questions that I was asked today is: if I saw bird footprints, would I have an idea of what it liked to eat? And I would say very much. So I would know that if I saw webbing that this is a bird that preferred aquatic habitats, and that it’s probably a herbivore, a vegetarian, or an omnivore. If I saw the middle foot of the raven, I would know that this is a bird that likes to cling on branches, and again, it’s probably a generalist and likes to eat all sorts of things. But if I saw the eagle foot, I would see all the power, and I would know it’s a carnivore. My name is Ildiko Szabo. I’m the collections curator of the Cowan Tetrapod Collection here at the UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

A woman with grey chest-length hair and glasses looks at the camera.