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Re: Sci. Am. - present. [long]
>I have bored this list before with my conviction that bird ancestors could
>have been both arboreal and non-gliding - a point that even Pat Shipman's
>excellent book does not seem to appreciate this point. I think this is
>because everyone assumes that the purpose of flight is to get from point A
>to point B - but many living birds do not use flight in this way. Instead,
>they make short fluttering dashes to reach prey that would otherwise be out
>of reach - either a flying insect, or something sitting on a leaf or limb
>too light to support the bird's weight - often returning to the same perch.
> A whole range of birds do this - even some fruit-eating birds.
>If proto-wings could have allowed an Archie ancestor to jump a few inches
>higher, or stay airborne for a few seconds longer, they might have greatly
>increased its ability to take a whole range of foods. This could happen
>either in trees or on the ground, but perhaps is more likely (as in modern
>birds) in trees.
Didn't G.S. Paul suggest something similar to this in _Predatory Dinosaurs
of the World_?
Seth A. Ellestad.