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FEATHERS



On Fri, 4 Oct 1996 Dinogeorge@aol.com wrote:

> Of course, the answer to this is that ANY kind of hairlike or featherlike
> dermal structure would almost automatically be "wonderfully adapted for
> insulation" if it simply covers the skin densely enough. The problem is not
> understanding the evolution of insulation; the problem is understanding
> specifically the evolution of structured feathers. This is where the BADD
> theory goes _ad hoc_ on us.

        We keep hearing bashing of "BADD" because, accusedly, it ignores
key facts and has some gaping holes- i.e. it doesn't explain everything.
Sometimes that's just the way it is- there are holes and we don't have all
the information to answer them. Like Darwin and selection mechanisms- he
had a a gaping hole in his theory, but he just plain lacked the evidence.
Wegener had a series of observations that led him to conclude motion in
the continents, but he lacked a mechanism to explain how they moved. Cut
some slack- nobody can explain everything perfectly.
            Heck, the heliocentric model of the universe actually fit the
data _WORSE_ than the model using epicycles- because the Copernican theory
proposed that the planets moved in perfect circles, which, of course, they
don't. Epicycles can approximate ellipses.
        The moral of this is, "Just because an idea has gaping holes,
doesn't mean it's wrong". I mean, we haven't heard a recantation of
certain ideas on segnosaur ancestry just because there's no quick and easy
way to explain the tridactyl manus, now have we? The tridactyl manus that
is supposed to be such a gaping hole in everyone elses ideas? 
        Part of science is the mystery, the confusion, the wonder, the
time where you just have to throw your hands up in the air and say you
really don't have a clue. If we stray to far from this- if we get to the
point where everything IS explained so neat and perfect- well, perhaps we
should get suspicious. 
        I personally am clueless about explaining the evolution of
powered flight from gliding forms. Bats and pterosaurs make me think
it could happen, I just don't know how. I'd rather sit back and say- "I am
ignorant, I am clueless, I know nothing about aerodynamics and less about
how birds fly" than come up with cockamamy ideas that probably have no
bearing on reality. I'd rather trust my instincts and go with it despite
the lack of an explanation, than to come up with crummy justifications to
support what is just a hunch. This is one case- there probably should be
others- where I simply plead total ignorance rather than just make more of
an ass of myself than I usually do.