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Re: uprightedness (was Re: SICB Report, part 1 (long)]

On Fri, 15 Jan 1999, James R. Cunningham wrote:
> Pheasants do 
> pretty well with a long tail.  Archies' tail doesn't appear to me to have
> been a handicap in flight -- more of a benefit, I'd say.

But a flesh and bone tail is heavier than a tail made of feathers.  
>...since Archie probably didn't take off flat-footed from a standing
> start like a pigeon does...

Being able to take off vertically is an advantage for avoiding predation.
It also means birds can spend more time foraging and less time planning a
take-off route.

>...make me suspect that Archie was a fairly effective flyer, probably a
> fit for his specific flight niche than a pigeon would have been.  On the
> other hand, I also suspect pigeons fit the pigeon niche better than Archie
> would have.

This is very difficult to argue.  One would have to have a competitive fly
off to know for sure.  Otherwise it seems to me a better position is:
the progressive reduction in tail size indicates a competitive advantage
for birds which possessed it.  Also, there are doubtless closer analogues
to archie than pigeons.