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Re: Tail length & preening

How would a peacock preen its tailfeathers? [I have no idea but the
situation seems about the same]
Dave Moore
Ottawa, Canada

----- Original Message -----
From: "Waylon Rowley" <whte_rbt_obj@yahoo.com>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Saturday, February 08, 2003 12:28 AM
Subject: Tail length & preening

      While reviewing the 4-winged Dinosaurs from China paper, I noticed
that the rather long tail on the *Microraptor* specimen appears to exceed
the pre-caudal axial column (including skull length)  by approximately 18
cm. This estimate is based on the reconstruction in figure 1c, since I was
unable to pinpoint the exact location of caudal vertebrae termination in the
other photo. I realize that the cervical series is most likely longer than
that restored in the paper. Nevertheless, I would like to know how
*Microraptor* reached it's most distal retrices in order to preen them. I
see only 5 options:

1) My estimates were flawed, and it could reach them.

2) *M.* didn't preen these feathers.

3) *M.* could not reach them, and instead relied on its manual digits to
preen them somehow.

4) *M.* used its fingers and claws to pull the tail forward (bending it
towards the mouth) for preening.

5) *M.* relied on other individuals to preen these feathers.

Options 4 and 5 are interesting because they either indicate the degree of
maximum lateral tail motion and flexibility in this dinosaur, or evidence
for grooming behavior. Number 3 is just peculiar, and I don't see how it
would work effectively. 2 would also be rather strange. Maybe someone could
rule out #1 for me  =).  In any case, I'd like to see any objections.


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