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Re: Feduccia ORIGIN

Gothgrrl@aol.com wrote:

> I got a copy of Feduccia's THE ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION OF BIRDS (Yale University
> Press, 1996) today and have read through about the first three chapters. So
> far, it looks like an impressive achievement, overall, and is, for the most
> part, up to date. Regrettably, the discovery of the feathered Chinese beast
> came too late to be included, and so his comment that there is not a single
> example of a feathered dinosaur is instantly obsolete (Feduccia considers
> _Archaeopteryx_ a "true" bird, and not a theropod).

The Chinese "feathersaurus" apparently hasn't made a whit of difference
to Alan Feduccia.  He doesn't believe it really has feathers.  While
skimming the Web today, I came across an article from a very recent
issue of SCIENCE magazine which discusses "Sinosauropteryx."  (To find
it yourself, go to www.InfoSeek.com and search on "sinosauropteryx.") 
In this article, Feduccia is quoted in terms that make it clear he
doesn't buy the "feathered dinosaur" notion for a nanosecond.  In fact,
to my eyes his words show he isn't thinking clearly on the subject. 
Here's how the SCIENCE article put it:

'But these ideas on the evolution of feathers are, well, for the birds,
according to University of North Carolina ornithologist Alan Feduccia,
the best-known critic of the theory that dinosaurs gave rise to birds.
He sees no proof that the dinosaur had feathers and doubts that any will
be forthcoming. Feathered wings were "the most complex appendage
produced by vertebrates," he says; it's implausible that an animal would
have developed feathers if it did not fly." '

In saying this, Feduccia appears to have constructed a very neat
chicken-and-egg paradox.  Only fully developed feathers would be of any
use for flying.  Yet he seems to be saying that only an already-flying
animal could have developed feathers.  Does this make sense to anyone
else?  It sure doesn't make sense to me.

-- JSW