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Re: Ostrom Reports.

At 11:13 PM 19/02/1999 -0500, you wrote:
>In a message dated 2/19/99 9:04:59 PM EST, bettyc@flying-goat.com writes:
><< since all birds preen feathers and all birds lack teeth, I don't see how
> anyone could imply that lack of teeth meant lack of preening ability and
> thus no feathers. >>
>Conversely, it's therefore also difficult to see why anyone might suggest
>preening as a function for teeth.

Nonetheless, any structure that could act as a comb (eg the pectinate claw
of some birds) could be used for preening, including teeth. Living
prosimian primates, such as lemurs, have a specially-modified "tooth comb"
consisting of the lower canines and incisors, used in part for grooming the
fur, so preening is not an impossible role for teeth.

In modern birds the horny edges of the ramphotheca are used to manipulate
the feather barbs; we do not know if Caudipteryx had a similar structure or
the necessary motor control to use it in this way, though it might have
done so.

I'm not going to get hung up on the point about toothless oviraptors,
though - it is incidental to my main point that feather maintenance is
important and requires behaviours and, sometimes, structures dedicated, at
least in part, to that purpose, and that if feather damage cannot be
avoided feather loss is a possible evolutionary consequence.  This should
apply to feathered dinosaurs as well as to birds.

Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court                 
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2          mailto:ornstn@home.com