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missing words from 'real feathers'
by some fluke in the cyberworld tiny pieces were omitted from my previous posting on 'real feathers' I have re posted a complete version below. Judging from the responses, the thoughts I intended to present were clear.
"I can't help thinking that 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 generations. So down (both natal and adult), semiplumes, remiges, 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 feathers 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 that the number of developmental repeates and fusion steps."
I would add that we don't know what a protofeather may have looked like. The structures on Sinosauropteryx are a possibility. Nor do we know what feather is the primitive state. I discuss these issues in my DINOFEST manuscript and in another to be presented in early 1999 at the SICB meetings. The structures that appear on Caudipteryx and Protarchaeopteryx are by current measure 'real feathers'!
Thanks for the opportunity to repost my original message.
Alan H. Brush
92 High St.
Mystic, CT 06355