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Re: Those amazing TWINNED EMU FEATHERS! - Question

At 12:06 AM 12/06/2000 -0400, Ray Stanford wrote:
Amazed, I asked them two questions: (1) Do all Emus have twinned feathers?; and, (2) Are all feathers on all Emus twinned?

The answer was yes, to both questions.

Your friends are correct. The "twinned" part is technically referred to as an aftershaft or afterfeather. According to "A Dictionary of Birds":

"This is a structure resembling a feather in miniature attached to the underside of the feather at the superior umbilicus. Six types may be recognized of which the most developed is that found in Casuariiformes [including emus - RO], where the afterfeather closely resembles the main feather, so that each feather appears double. In its simplest type the afterfeather lacks an afterrshaft (hyporachis) and merely consists of a row of barbs (an aftertuft) attaching to the rim of the superior umbilicus. It is found in the New World Vultures (Cathartinae). Several groups entirely lack afterfeathers, eg Ostrich, pigeons, cuckoos and swallows. Most workers assume that the function of afterfeathers is to increase the thermal insulating property of the feathers.... some birds, eg ptarmigans, have larger afterfeathers in the winter than in the summer plumage."

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