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In a message dated 95-12-07 11:29:13 EST, dwn194@soton.ac.uk writes:

>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?

A point that may or may not have been brought up previously in this
(seemingly endless) discussion:  Does the fluff *really* help all that much?
 It seems to me that what would be far more important in being able to
survive such a fall is the fact that chicks, and most likely, the alleged
avian-ancestors, are (or were) SMALL.  Kinetic energy being smaller for
smaller critters and such.  We all(?) learned this stuff in physics class.
 Drop a mouse and a human from a 30m cliff, and I'm sure the mouse has a much
higher chance of surviving, even if the human were well-padded.  Similarly,
drop a large theropod and a small one out of a tree, and the smaller one is
less likely to suffer broken bones and such.  
I don't really think that, in this light, feathers, or fluff, would have
evolved to cushion the blow for falling proto-birds.  More than likely their
primary purpose was merely insulation.  Sudden thought:  do we have any real
proof that downy-feather-stuff evolved from flight feathers (or vice-versa),
and that the two are not actually separate, though similar, inventions?

Derek Smith.