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Re: Archaeopteryx and Flight
>I agree with you on that, but wonder what the original purpose of feathers
>might have been. Thermal insulation seems obvious, but the best feathers
>for that purpose are downy - look at an ostrich - rather than rigid flight
>feathers. Physical protection is a possibility. I've already mentioned the
>self-healing characteristics; and I've heard of old Japanese feather armour
>which was surprisingly light and effective. I also recall hearing a
>suggestion that an armful of rigid feathers makes a good insect net.
>Perhaps some of the professionals out there could weigh in with current
>thoughts on this.
>Happy New Year to all.
As you point out, contour feathers probably developed for a different reason
from flight feathers - probably insulation. Another theory for the
evolution of flight feathers - one I like personally - is their use as
display structures. Their placement (on the arms if not the tail) seems
singularly ill-suited to their use as traps (try catching something with
your elbows); but even modern flightless birds like the kagu and ostrich
have retained large wing-feathers, using them as display structures (as do
such flighted birds as the sunbittern and hoatzin, for example).
Ronald I. Orenstein Phone: (905) 820-7886 (home)
International Wildlife Coalition Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116 (home)
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