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In a message dated 96-10-03 17:29:20 EDT, dwn194@soton.ac.uk (Darren Naish)

> 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.

Taking the other side (from BCF) of this argument for a moment, feathers
>could< have appeared originally as simple hairlike structures for
insulation, then become exapted for flight, during the evolution of which
they acquired their intricate anatomy.

But get this: It could be that the first feathers to appear were, say, blue,
and their >color< or >pretty, interwoven pattern< attracted members of the
opposite sex. Only later did it turn out that feathers were useful for other
things. As long as such scenarios can't be excluded, I think we'll never know
>for certain< why feathers evolved.