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RE: The origin of flight: from the water up - LONG
Non-Dinosaurian Content [Dinosaurian Content Follows - really, it does
Rutger Jansma wrote:
"Ah well, it's better to burn out than fade away... That's Kurt Cobain :) "
Actually, Neil Young wrote that in 1979 (when Kurt was 12 years old) - Kurt
was quoting Neil in
his (Kurt's) suicide note. See "Rust Never Sleeps" (the album or the
"My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)"
[a.k.a.: "Out Of The Blue"]
My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It's better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.
Out of the blue
and into the black
They give you this,
but you pay for that
And once you're gone,
you can never come back
When you're out of the blue
and into the black.
The king is gone
but he's not forgotten
This is the story
of-a Johnny Rotten
It's better to burn out
than it is to rust
The king is gone
but he's not forgotten.
Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.
I like Jaime's _Sinornithosaurus_ illustration on his Qilong site, it does
look very natural.
My take on the problem of flight origins is that we do not currently have
enough clear-cut fossils to tell us how this occurred. We MAY never have
them. In lieu of that, we are left building "just-so" scenarios. I've
stated my personal preference (hopping for sexual display, becoming a form
of flight), but several of the methods described may not be mutually
As to whether flight evolved from trees down, or from ground up, or from
running up rocks or running up trees: These are not ideas which demand that
the other ideas cannot happen - maybe they even occurred at the same time!
You have a small, feathered maniraptor that can run, and can climb trees.
[There are a lot of extant animals that are not specialized for running or
for climbing trees, and they can do both - with varying degrees of success.]
This small dino can also jump a little bit, and its wings have grown large
enough that they are useful for brooding, and also they have proven very
useful in cushioning the 'fall' when jumping from the trees to attack prey.
In addition, the sexual displays (especially the jumps) of those maniraptors
that can sustain 'hang-time' would certainly be more interesting to
[There are birds (males - I don't recall the species) that put on a
spectacular display that consists of a long routine of jumping from the
ground and doing flips (while singing!) in a pre-ordained pattern in a
clearing - this after calling out to the females and waiting for them to
perch in the trees and bushes surrounding the clearing (which they [the
male] helped to clear out). Once the audience has assembled, the male does
his routine. While he does use his wings in this procedure, he is not
really flying. Once he completes his routine, he flies over to one of the
spectators, and mates with her. If any more spectators remain, he then
mates with them as well.]
The only hypothesis that does preclude the others is the "FUCHSIA" one,
since it assumes the development of feathers to the point of being able to
fly in air (but not doing so!) PRIOR to the maniraptor becoming mostly
aquatic. After some extended time adapting to living mostly in the water,
the maniraptor develops the strokes for flight due to the need for them in
the water, then for some reason applies these strokes to flight in the air.
The only good thing about this idea (in my opinion, of course), is that it
posits a reason for the separation between the forelimbs and hind limbs in
terms of the locomotion cycles. [Of course, Jaime's climbing
_Sinornithosaurus_ may also explain the forelimb/hind limb disconnect - due
to the need for different kinds of motion from the limbs].
I don't think the "FUCHSIA" hypothesis explains why the maniraptor would
need to use its wings to 'fly' in the water, rather than converting to
smaller, more penguin-like wings; and it doesn't explain why it would need
to use these wings, which have developed into effective paddles in the
water, as wings once it returned to land. After 'learning' how to be good
water 'flyers', why would you assume the skills would transfer EXACTLY to
flight in the air? The only thing that would match would be the stroke.
Pulling oneself through the water it NOT the same as pulling oneself through
the air (Try it yourself! :-)).
As to the question of whether they had some sort of oil glands to prevent
the feathers from getting waterlogged - It really doesn't matter. One must
assume that all animals have some sort of protection against the rain
(caves, trees, bushes, holes dug in the ground - for those that have no
physiological protection), but we do know of extant animals that eventually
end up miserable (at the least) if they can't stay out of drenching rains or
out of floods. The question is whether a sufficiently advanced form of the
oil glands were developed to allow the aquatic maniraptors to BE aquatic.
Personally, I think that "Archie" could fly, probably much better than your
average chicken, and maybe nearly as good as a wild turkey. (This is based
on extrapolating from tables in Pat Shipman's book "Taking Wing", and other
miscellaneous items). Also, its lifestyle may have easily included diving
down to grab fish or smaller animals and insects from the water. It may not
have been an extremely specialized feeder (just a guess).
I'm sorry that this is so very long. I'm trying to say why I think that the
"FUCHSIA" hypothesis doesn't explain all that it needs to.
Thanks for trying to digest this. :-)