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Re: flapping from gliding

On Fri, 27 Sep 1996 Dinogeorge@aol.com wrote (quoting Mickey Rowe):

> > No other animal past or present ran like theropods do (i.e. two
> > legs, a horizontal spine, a sigmoidal neck and a long
> > counterbalancing tail).  Sometimes the specifics are important...

Well, other than the S-curved neck, there WAS some small (eocene?)
shrew-like critter with enormous long legs that appears to have been a
biped (althought it's possible it was a leaper...). Don't recall the name
offhand, but I remember it from the "Macmillan Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs
and Extinct something or other".

> Well, then one could make all sorts of claims about dinosaur behavior and
> argue that, since dinosaurs were so different from modern animals, these
> behaviors are simply not seen any more. I suppose I do some of this myself
> when arguing for certain plausible behaviors in dino-birds (such as
> tail-gliding), so perhaps I should have extended the same courtesy to you
> after all.

        I don't know what you mean by "tail-gliding" but the Australian
feathertail-glider has a tail with stiff bristles on the side which form
an aerofoil (rudder? elevator? I'm not sure).Couple this with what we've
been hearing about these monkeys with hairy arms and you've got a decent
model of a primitive parachute/glide dinosaur, even ignoring the fact that
if dinosaurs evolved flight feathers from preexisting ratite-style
insulatory feathers, they would probably have a _much_ easier time doing 
this than the mammals do with their hairs. So if this is tail-gliding, 
I don't find it implausible.
   I will admit that there are many things on this earth we no longer see.
Rearing browsers are (in my opinion) an example of a vanished niche- once
filled by diplodocids, stegosaurs, chalicotheres, and ground sloths, it
seems to be absent today. The same goes with sabertooths (although komodos
or great whites could be said to be doing something analogous) and
sickle-claws. If anything, that seems to have once been the preferred
method of large-game hunting. Giant reptiles, as well, are something that
is not widely observed today- komodos and Galapagos tortoises being the
biggest we have left. 
        But I think the principle difference is that these are accepted
because there is evidence- good fossil evidence, from many different
directions, rather than simply speculation, to back
them up.