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Re: Sinosauropteryx feathers?
The paper, "The Morphogenesis of Feathers," by Mingke et al., published in the
November 21, 2002 issue of _Nature_ is available on line at
<www-hsc.usc.edu/~cmchuong/nature.pdf>. Evo devo suggests that feathers started
out as a shaft; progressed to a stage with notched epithelia; then developed
notched rachis, barbs, and barbules; and finally lost the rachis to produce
downy feathers! Fun stuff. If this is correct, it reinforces the fact that
evolution does not always lead from the simple to the complex, but often from
the complex to the simple (as in tetrapod digit reduction, for instance). There
are nice color graphics and photos in the free article. A web search on
"morphogenesis feathers Mingke" will also take you to a number of summaries and
commentaries on the paper.
---------Ralph W. Miller III