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Re: Comments on _Longisquama_ in _Science_.



> <That's important, Ruben says, because he and most other scientists think
> structures as specialized as feathers must have evolved only once, almost
> certainly in some ancient member of a vast group of creatures called
> archosaurs.>

Perhaps Ruben et al. should take a look at plume moths and many-plume moths.
It's startling to see "feathers" on insects!  _The Pictorial Encyclopedia of
Insects_ by V. J. Stanek has a remarkable photograph of a specimen of _Alucita
hexadactyla_, the twenty-plume moth, on page 323 with the wings fully spread.
Each wing is composed of 12 individual central stems flanked by discrete
(noninterlocking) barb-like filaments.  The interesting thing is that these
units apparently don't combine to form a continuous surface at all, but I
suppose that the moth's tiny size affords it considerable aerodynamic leeway.
On the other hand, the moth appears to tuck them together much as a bird tucks
its feathers.

The text states: "The imagines of the Plume-Moth family _Pterophoriadae_ have
wings divided into feather-like lobes...  The family of Many-plume Moths,
_Orneodidae_, comprises not quite 100 species, whose wings are each divided into
six feather-like plumes."

There are so-so photos on the web at <www.bioimages.org.uk/HTML/P41102.HTM> and
<www.bioimages.org.uk/HTML/P41103.HTM>, but you must picture the wings fully
spread to get the full effect.

No, I'm not proffering this as an alternative to the coelurosaurian ancestry of
feathers.

-- Ralph W. Miller III       gbabcock@best.com

Quick!  Get the butterfly net for these guys!