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>One thing we can do is simply list all the different ways that flight could
>have evolved and rate them--by vote, perhaps--as to their plausibility. Then
>we could set aside the most outlandish of them and concentrate on the three
>or four ways deemed most likely.

I THINK I am agreeing with George here in that an examination, without
phylogenetic bias, of the likelihood of various evolutionary pathways
towards flight, and the skeletal adaptations that might accompany them, has
value in telling us what to look for when we examine any protobird (or
whatever) fossils that may turn up.  In the same way a detailed knowledge of
what living birds do can help, I think, in refining such hypotheses.

For example - if I am right in speculating that gliding adaptations are not
prerequisites to powered flight, then rejecting a fossil as a potential bird
ancestor because it lacks such adaptations may blind us to the very
characters that would clinch the issue in other words, we would be looking
for the wrong thing.  That doesn't mean you would reject a glider - after
all, I may be wrong - but that you should keep other possibilities in mind.

Besides, I have to use my ornithology background for SOMETHING....
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886 (home)
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116 (home)
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