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Re: origin of feathers



> From dinosaur@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu Tue Oct  3 13:36 BST 1995
> Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 08:28:23 -0400
> Originator: dinosaur@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu
> From: bk090@freenet.carleton.ca (David Brez Carlisle)
> To: Multiple recipients of list <dinosaur@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu>
> Subject: origin of feathers
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> rowe@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu
> 
> 
> Here's some p ure sepculation.  I s hould be plesaed if anyone
> saw fit to sh oot it down or comment on it.
> Birds do not carry fleas or lice, nor are they often bitten by
> mosquitoes.  Even the so-called b ird-lice stay in the n est
> and feed on the  young birds, and are not carried around by
> the adult birds.
> I can't really see a b iting i nsect managing to bit an adult bird
> through the "armour" of the contour feathers.  Mosquitoes and
> horse flies seem to h ave co-evolved with th e mammals, and
> are primarily parasites of them, not of birds.
> Could feathers have evolved first as protection against
> biting insects?
> 
> David
> 
> --
> From: David Brez Carlisle
> bk090@Freenet Carleton.CA
> 

It's an interesting idea - I suppose you are saying that the insulatory and
aerodynamic properties of feathers might be secondary.  I am not sure that 
birds are as parasite-free as you suggest though. Mosquitoes certainly feed
on birds, and I believe malaria is thought to have originated in birds, 
later transferring to mammals..

Tony Canning
tonyc@foe.co.uk

(Opinions my own, not necessarily my employer's.)