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Re: Feathers as fossilized behaviour (was:Re: Function Talks at Ostrom Symposium)

>  If the Yixian lake was truly a lake at the time (hoping for the data
>on Sihetun, really, really, really...) that the *Caudipteryx* were
>preserved, then perhaps the animal's movement through the water or the
>water's movement over the animal would have altered the natural
>position of the feathers. If it was careless of its feathers, the
>water could have straitened them out.

If that were the case there would be no need for water birds to preen, and
they do (in fact, using a waterproofing oil secretion in some cases -
getting one's feathers soggy is NOT a good idea).  Preening does not just
"straighten out" feathers - it aligns the barbs and barbules (rather like
doing up a zipper) and passage through the water (whether in life or death)
would not have had that effect.  Try it yourself with a chicken feather or

>  Do you propose that oviraptors were large-game predators? I see
>difficulties on that score, mainly the jaws are almost entirely
>unsuited to processing flesh and instead suited to crushing objects
>(Barsbold, 1977; Smith, 1993; pers. obs.).

Not at all - this was merely building speculation on speculation (ie if the
teeth of Caudipteryx are feather combs, why were they lost in oviraptors?)
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
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