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FUCHSIA: Bird flight once more
> I just wrote:
> > > And how does, e.g., a stiffened tail help the animal with brooding
> > feathers
> > > on its forelimbs?
> > Not at all, of course. This is certainly for balancing as proposed long
> Just to be clear: for balancing in ground runners as proposed for
> *Deinonychus* in 1969, not for balancing in trees, where a _prehensile_
> (seen in drepanosaurids and various living squamates, not to speak of many
> monkeys etc.) is much more useful.
Actually, there is another explanation: Ebel thinks Archie's tail was used
as a steering rudder in the manner some diving birds use their stiff tail
feathers today. This might even (my idea now) explain the short, mobile
tails of "enigmosaurs" + birds including the pygostyle and the array of tail
feathers seen in *Caudipteryx** as an adaptation to less stability and
quicker turning underwater, exapted by *Caudipteryx* etc. for display,
re-stiffened in alvarezsaurids for balance in running again** and further
shortened in pygostylians for steering in air.
* *Caudipteryx* surely was not such a diver. But it's late anyway, the
animals I'm hypothesizing about must have lived quite some time before
** Those alvarezsaurids with largely known tails have rather short ones, and
few vertebrae in it (about 25 probably). The distal ones appear to be
lengthened and secondarily stiffened IMHO, reaching a tail functionally much
like in e. g. ornithomimosaurs but with much fewer vertebrae.
While I am at it, HP Mike Taylor has suggested the following offlist:
> (The other thing your theory[*] needs is a nice, snappy name in the mould
> of BAMM, BCF, BAND, etc. Hmm. The best I can offer is FUCHSIA,
> standing for something like Flight Underwater Continued, However
> Strange, In Air. What do you think? :-)
*Ebel's hypothesis, that is
I think this is great. I hereby formally adopt FUCHSIA: "however strange"
applies to the fact that it is quite unconventional, and a beautiful flower
suits a beautiful hypothesis. :-)
Even though it is unconventional, its simplest form is 98 years old:
Jeff Liston: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Feathered Flight: The Hidden
Story, Quarterly Journal of the Dinosaur Society 4 (1) Flight special issue
"Huxley's conclusion of theropod descent for birds [...] held sway for many
years - even finding its way (albeit in quite a distorted fashion!) into
quite popular literature. E. Ray Lankester (the Director of the Natural
History Departments of the British Museum) was asked to deliver the Royal
Institution Christmas Lectures for young people during winter 1903-1904.
Afterwards, he published a transcript of the collected lectures (Ray
Lankester, 1905), and within this stated that: "In fact it is now certain
that reptiles similar to the Iguanodon [ = bipedal dinosaurs] were the stock
from which birds have been derived, the front limb having become probably
first a swimming flipper or paddle, and then later an organ for beating the
air and raising the creature out of the water for a brief flight. From such
a beginning came the feather-bearing wing of modern birds."
(Heilmann "then embarked upon a twenty page detailed osteological analysis
to demolish the ornithopodan descent for birds" and made Lankester look
wholly ridiculous. Indeed Lankester had just been speculating... but that's
no evidence he was _totally_ wrong :-) )