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>Isn't the attention given to keeping feathers clean more to do with
flight than anything else?<

No flightless birds preen as well.
see below.

>The Sumatran rhinoceros<

Dont think I have heard of those, maybe I have.

>Some people are known to lose hair as they age, too<

So do some primates.

>Sorry to have to belabor this point, but I think it causes problems to
continue referring to these structures as "Feathers".<

Same orgin and structure, they are feathers.

>Hairlike PROTOfeathers" would not require preening (even if such structures 
>had begun to split into something more complex).<

Preening has several purposes.

- Keeping feathers moist and flexable.
- Regulation of bacteria and fungas that digest keratin.
- Removing of parasites.
- Rearrange their plumage.
- Reposition feathers that are out of place.
- Preening gestures are also seen in sexual displays and in agressive displays.
- * Making sure that the animal looks presentable to the female for sexual 
selection. One doesnt need bad looking plumage,(feathers), that would make it 
look unhealthy and a poor choice.