Document Type



Scratches on bones have routinely been attributed to tooth marks (a predominantly untested speculation), ignoring the effects of claws, perhaps because of the general assumption that claws are too soft to damage bone. However, some pathologies appears to be more compatible with claw rather than tooth impacts. Therefore, it is critical to determine if the claws of any animal are capable of scratching into the surface of any bone – a test and proof of concept. A tiger enrichment program was used to document actual bone damage unequivocally caused by claws, by assuring that the tiger had access to bones only by using its paws (claws). The spectrum of mechanisms causing bone damage was expanded by evidentiary analysis of claw-induced pathology. While static studies suggested that nails/claws could not disrupt bone, specific tiger enrichment activities documented that bones were susceptible to damage from the kinetic energy effect of the striking claw. This documents an expanded differential consideration for scratch marks on bone and evidences the power of the claw.



Publication Date


Original Citation

Rothschild, B. M., Bryant, B., Hubbard, C., Tuxhorn, K., Kilgore, G. P., Martin, L., & Naples, V. (January 01, 2013). The power of the claw. Plos One, 8, 9.)


Department of Biological Sciences

Legacy Department

Department of Biological Sciences


This article is made openly accessible in part by an award from the Northern Illinois University Libraries' Open Access Publishing Fund.




PLoS One

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All PLOS content is freely available for the public to distribute, reuse and remix. Just make sure appropriate attribution or credit is indicated. Copyright © 2013 Rothschild et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



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