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Re: CNN: how first birds flew

At 07:42 PM 5/5/99 -0700, Stan Friesen wrote:

>>Scientists Discover how First Birds Flew
>>Reuters            05-MAY-99
>I consider this premature, to say the least
>>But palaeontologists at The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
>>used aerodynamic calculations and fossil records to show that the oldest
>>known bird, the 150-million-year-old Archaeopteryx, was quick enough to
>>get a running start. 
>So?  How does this demonstrate how flying *originated?  Naturally, once
>flight has evolved, the animals would quickly evolve the ability to achieve
>a running start!  There is no reason to suppose that _Archaeopteryx_ is
>*that* basal.
>>As a flier Archaeopteryx probably represents a late stage in the
>>evolution of bird flight.
>Yes indeed - which is why it is not particularly useful for determining the
>earlier phases.

This is a Reuters news article.  It is not the original paper.  Neither you
nor I nor anyone on this list (with one or two lurker exceptions, probably)
have seen the paper, nor its data, nor the model they used.  (Okay, I've
seen an early version of the model at the Ostrom Symposium).

If we have problems with the reportage, than it is appropriate to take apart
the article.  If we have problems with the science, we should wait until we
see the freakin' paper, dammit!!

Can we all cope with that?  (Damn, now *I'm* doing it!!  :-)

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:tholtz@geol.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661