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Re: Again: origin of bird flight
There must be a reason why 1 *Compsognathus* specimen is known from the
Solnhofen/Eichstätt area, while 8* specimens of *Archaeopteryx* plus the
isolated feather are known from there... Ebel suggests the later were more
likely to die in/above the place where they fossilized.
Some further details on this point, which I answered briefly in my last
1. The flying foxes that drown in billabongs in northern Australia do not
just do so now and again, but apparently frequently enough so that some
populations of pig-nose turtles (Carettochelys insculpta) rely on them is a
regular source of protein.
2. Flight is hazardous. Once an animal is airborne, it may be at the mercy
of strong winds that can carry it places it had no intention of going,
particularly if it is not a strong flier in the first place. Therefore,
the fact that fossils of Archeopteryx occur in lake beds does not even
prove that these birds were deliberately flying over water. They could
represent animals that had been blown out into the middle of the lake by a
storm, and could not get back.
3. Although there are very few specimens of the definitely non-flying
Compsognathus from the area, there are beautiful specimens of pterosaurs
from the same beds. If pterosaurs can end up as fossils in the bottom of a
lake without being underwater swimmers, there is no reason why the same
could not be true of Archaeopteryx. in fact, the one thing these two taxa
share, the ability to fly, exposes them to the same risk of being blown
places that they do not wish to go.
I would therefore conclude that, what ever other evidence there may be for
suggesting that Archaeopteryx was a swimmer (and it should be obvious by
now that I find this idea ludicrous at best), the fact that its fossils
turned up aquatic deposits cannot qualify as such evidence.
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:email@example.com