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> The problem is that even if we decide what idea makes the most sense, there=
>  will always be the nagging question of what *actually* happened (just=
>  because something doesn't make sense, doesn't mean that nature didn't go=
>  that way; logic has it's limits). 

     If you mean that we don't understand ourselves why something 
happened a certain way but that that doesn't mean there wasn't a reason 
for it unbeknowst to us, I'd have to agree. 

   As Rowe pointed out, the only problem=
>  here is with our inability to imagine what went on.  My question: how close=
>  was Archy to the true origin of flight?  
     I am personally pretty well convinced that Archaeopteryx could fly.  
The aerodynamic design of the feathers and the lateral orientation of the 
glenoid fossa (compared to a more ventral orientation in ohter 
theropods) is strongly suggestive to say the least.  Archae was an early 
primitive flyer, and the characteristics of advanced flight like the 
dorsally oriented glenoid, stabilized wrist, pygostyle etc...had not had 
time to appear yet, but the first steps had been made.    

   This may give us a clue.  If it=
>  turns out that there were no trees in the place where flight evolved, then=
>  any arboreal explanation falls flat.

     The Solnholfen may indeed lack trees, but this does not neccesarily 
eliminate arboreality for Archaeopteryx or bird ancestry for two reasons:
1) Archaeoopteryx may have been an arboreal form that was only an 
infrequent visitor to the area.
2) Even if Archaeopteryx was a Solnhofen native, that were the first true 
fliers may have originally evolved in a totally different environemnt.  
  I suspect that we know so little=
>  about flight evolution that only the most outlandish of theories should be=
>  ignored (look at poor Wegener, for example).  Just a few suggestions to=
>  keep egg off our faces.

     I agree.  I feel that just about everything that I and others have 
said in this and previous postings is as plausibly speculative in the 
right environment and ecological conditions as the BCF theory. The plausible 
possibilities are endless.  Even if one theory seems more likely to us 
than the rest, as huge as the gaps in our knowledge and understanding 
are not even SUGGESTIVE that thats the way it happened.  In these 
cases, plausibility is not proportional to probability.      
     One might argue (and some have), even in light of overwealming 
evidence,  that saying that evolution really happened and that man 
really landed on the moon cannot be verified 
because we ourselves never actually saw it happen an it could all be a 
humungous fake or misinterpretaion.  I refer to this way of thinking as 
keeping your mind so open that your brains fall out.  Advocates of 
BCF may feel that my brains are spilling in said fashion, but I 
think that the evidence really IS too scanty in this particular case for 

LN Jeff