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In a message dated 96-10-04 18:49:11 EDT, martz@holly.ColoState.EDU (Jeffrey
> George Olshevsky wrote:
>> 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.
> Hold on there. It is exceedingly unlikely that feathers
> could evolve for flight WITHOUT preadaptation... >>
Umm--I'm being misidentified here. I think it was Darren Naish who said this,
But I do agree with the sentiments. For a really nice account of how feathers
could have evolved in a flying context and not as insulation, do read
Feduccia's new book, The Origin and Evolution of Birds. Incidentally,
Feduccia's detailed description of feather tracts on birds reinforces my
suspicion that avian feathers are derived homologues of _Longisquama_
"pre-feathers," ankylosaur scutes and spines, stegosaur plates, and sauropod
dorsal spines and plates (or at least, the keratinous covering thereof). This
should make _Mesozoic Meanderings_ #2 third printing even more interesting.
Remember, you heard it here first.