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Re: Status of _Caudipteryx_

At 10:27 AM 30/12/00 -0500, ELurio@aol.com wrote:
Well, it isn't EXACTLY "flightless, full-stop,"(it can glide, which is sort
of flying) but that's not the point at all. Caudipteryx and some of it's
contemporaries may NOT be "secondarily" flightless, but be the evolutionary
equivilent of the colugo as compared to the fruit bat. The critters of the
time we're talking about were more diverse than we currently know about.

This makes very little sense to me. Are you suggesting Caudipteryx was a glider? It seems most unlikely. If you are suggesting that Caudipteryx and birds share a common ancestor but are not part of the same clade, then I guess it is a fair comparison (though so would "a human being as compared to a fruit bat"). I don't think anyone is proposing that Caudipteryx is the closest thing to a true bird that isn't one (that is, I suppose, its most immediate sister-group); the two competing theories seem to be that either it is a basal oviraptorid or a secondarily flightless bird (with the note that some think oviraptors are secondarily flightless birds, too).

As far as flightlessness is concerned, either Caudipteryx evolved from a flying ancestor or it didn't, but if it is a true bird it would almost HAVE to be secondarily flightless by definition if birds are defined as everything sharing a common ancestor with a living bird and Archaeopteryx, because that common ancestor surely had at least some ability to fly. If it is NOT a true bird, then it could be secondarily flightless or not, depending on whether (a) there were ever any flying non-avian dinosaurs and (b) whether Caudipteryx evolved from one of them. And that is a question we can't answer (at least not yet!).

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