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Feathers and flight
I've been lurking on the net, while the discussion on Archaeopteryx has
gone backwards and forwards. Some years ago Jere Lipps (now at U. California
Berkeley) and I published a (or the) display hypothesis for the origin of
feathers and flight (Proceedings of the 3rd. North American Paleontological
Convention, Montreal). That paper seems to have been lost in the literature,
yet as the years have gone by and the arboreal and running/cursorial
theories for the origin of flight in birds have run into greater and greater
difficulties, Jere and I have felt that ours only got better.
Being unable to get it past several editors, I published an updated version
of it in my textbook History of Life, Blackwell, 1989, and an even newer
version in the 2nd edition, 1994. Available at all quality bookstores.
However, it is my copyright, so I though it might be a good idea to put it
on the net here, updated once again. Don't forget, however, that this is a
joint effort by Jere and myself.
The presentation is meant for my freshman-level class, the target of the
textbook. So the language is as clear as I can make it, and the story
naturally simplified. But not much. Basically, this is a straightforward
I've broken it into four parts, which will follow in subsequent posts. First
comes the display hypothesis for the origin of feathers; then comes a
discussion of the jumping and running theories; then comes our display
hypothesis. Last will come a list of references.