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I can't help thinking than any epidermal structure that consists of the feather (phi) type keratin, and is produced in a follicle, is a feather. There are morphologically many types of feathers, and different feather generation. So down (both natal and adult), semiplumes, remises, contour feathers, bristles,are all 'real' feathers.
I find the discussion regarding the presence of real feathers as opposed to something else (not real?) feathers, difficult to comprehend.Clearly, the morphology is related to functional differences. No question they are important; but they are all real feathers. Personally, I believe the morphological differences among feather and the even smaller, but perhaps equally important, differences in shape, are very simply produced. The latter is simply a matter of differential growth periods.The former may be nothing more complicated than the number of developmental repeates and fusion steps.
Alan H. Brush
92 High St.
Mystic, CT 06355