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Re: Status of _Caudipteryx_
ELurio@aol.com wrote (in reply to Mickey Mortimer's post):
<< The whole secondarily flightless bird hypothesis is supported mainly by
birds aren't dinosaurs crowd who like it because a feathered dinosaur would
ruin their phylogeny, >>
Not really, primarily flightless birds work quite well, especially for the
Yes really. By "primarily flightless" I suppose you mean that such birds
are primitively flightless and did not evolve from volant (flying) ancestors
- which would make _Caudipteryx_ *secondarily* flightless.
Feduccia and friends are claiming just that - that_Caudipteryx_ is indeed
secondarily flightless (_Caudipteryx_ is a "Mesozoic kiwi" in their words).
However, cladistic analyses (see previous post) indicate that _Caudipteryx_
evolved from outside the Aves, indicating that it was "primarily"
flightless. This puts a spanner in the works where Feduccia and others are
concerned, since they cannot abide the idea that there might have been
flightless, feathered nonavian theropods. A "feathered dino" would indeed
ruin the phylogeny proposed by Feduccia - which essentially states that
birds evolved from outside the dinosaurs (exactly from WHAT Feduccia hasn't
There are flightless birds in the Cretaceous (hesperornithiforms,
_Patagopteryx_, _Gargantuavis_, possibly alvarezsaurids which are flightless
but not avian according to Sereno). For these taxa, both their inclusion
among the birds and their secondary flightlessness is inferred from their
skeletal anatomy. The presence of feathers in _Caudipteryx_ doesn't
automatically include this genus in the Aves (contra Feduccia).
_Caudipteryx_'s skeletal anatomy strongly suggests that this creature is a
nonavian theropod, probably an oviraptorosaur). Although, like Adam Yates,
I am very interested in Elzanowski's notion that ALL oviraptorosaurs are
secondarily flightless birds.
Dr Timothy J. Williams
Iowa State University
Ames IA 50014
Phone: 515 294 9233
Fax: 515 294 3163
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