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With re to the 'feathers evolved as insulators' thread..

Feathers are the most complex structure to have grown out of vertebrate skin
_ever_. To argue that this structure _just happens_ to have been, later on,
usefully exapted for flight is illogical. The only way to explain the initial
appearance of feathers is to say that they evolved for aerodynamic purposes. 

New work by Alan Brush suggests that feathers did _not_ evolve from scales, BTW,
but were an evolutionary novelty. 

Note that these considerations are not disharmonious with bird-evolution

"Look at the size of that thing!"