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FLUFF AND FALLING



In one of their (increasingly frequent) slagging matches -;), George and Mickey
have been battling it out (min.exagg.) over the use of 'any amount of fluff' (an
Olshevskiism) as advantageous to an acronomic (sigh) tetrapod...

Last night (while reading about nesting sites in lyrebirds) I suddenly
remembered that there is a population of a species of goose, or possibly a sea-
duck ('fraid I can't remember) whose choice of nesting site necessitates the
plunging off a cliff by the flightless, downy babies. When the parents 'decide'
it's time, the whole family leaves the nest and heads sea-ward. Prob is, the sea
is at the bottom of a 30 m+ high cliff: mum and dad can fly off.. babies must
follow. Like the good little imprinters they are, off they plunge - down - down
- down.. and onto the rocks (yes, rocks) below. By virtue of their fluffy down,
they survive, and after clambering over a rock-strewn beach to get to the sea,
off swim the (brain damaged - kidding) babies with their parents.. happily ever
after. etc etc.

A viable experiment might therefore be to catch some of these chicks, pre-
leaving nest, nudify them (new word?), then see if they survive the fall? I'm
sure most of us (hopefully all) would petition against such an experiment, but
this whole sequence of events *might* prove that 'any amount of fluff' is
beneficial to little critters that fall.. it is to these animals anyway. But
then, seeing as such specific behaviour was _probably_ not too important in the
day-to-day adventures of bird ancestors, perhaps it's quite irrelevant..

"Remember, fundamentally, people are suckers for the truth and the truth is on
your side bubba.....[pause]...I just hope you get a break"

DARREN NAISH