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Re: Feathers as fossilized behaviour

Ronald I. Orenstein wrote:

>Therefore I predict (drum roll, please) that the more maniraptorian
>dinosaurs used their arms for prey capture, the greater the likelihood that
>remiges on the arms would be reduced (at least distally) or lost.  I admit
>the possibility that they might have been retained along with a breeding
>cycle that swung into high gear immediately after moult, when feathers were
>fresh, but I consider loss or reduction to be the likelier scenario.  I
>would therefore not expect a "winged" Deinonychus (and perhaps I should not
>be surprised that no wing feathers were preserved with Protarchaeopteryx
>either, as its arms are longer and more robust than in Caudipteryx, but I'm
>hesitant about that idea).  Of course Archaeopteryx had long arms too, but
>it was flying with them - and besides, I do not think it was using them to
>wrestle large prey items to the ground.

Very interesting idea, which raises a couple of questions that someone with
more knowledge than I might be able to answer.

First, what about birds with downy feathers, like (if I recall correctly)
the kiwi? Do they require grooming?

Second, what about the large secondarily flightless predatory birds of the
Tertiary? They would presumably have problems similar to 'feathered
dinosaurs' in maintaining feathers. Have feather remains been found with
them? If so, what type of feathers?

-- Jeff Hecht, jhecht@world.std.com

Jeff Hecht     Boston Correspondent    New Scientist magazine
525 Auburn St.,          Auburndale, MA 02466             USA
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