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On Fri, 8 Dec 1995 DSmith0531@aol.com wrote:

> 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
> 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?

I'd have to agree with you about the cushioning theory, at least as the sole 
mechanism for their survival, if it does indeed help at all. I think that 
while the fluffy cushion idea has SOME merit, I think perhaps an 
larger consideration has to be given to how the down would affect the 
drag coefficient  of the little critter. Put mo simply, aren't you just 
as likely to get saved by drag from the down slowing your fall as you are 
from it cushioning it?