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Re: From Nature: "Fossil boosts trees-down start for flight"



Does it really apply to flight origins?  It looks a lot like an
adaptation to increase maneuverability and reduce drag while still
adequately supporting the aft cg that is a consequence of the pronounced
tail, rather than being a statement on flight origins.  As an aside, I'm
not a proponent of exclusive ground-up or trees-down origins, but do
doubt that bird flight began with gliding, and at first glance, suspect
that this beast may eventually provide some peripheral evidence that it
didn't.
Jim

Toni Geoly wrote:
> 
> http://www.nature.com/nsu/030120/030120-7.html
> 
> >From the article:
> 
> The discovery in China of a remarkable dinosaur with birdlike
> feathers on its hindlimbs and tail as well as its forelimbs will
> re-ignite debate about the origins of birds, feathers and flight.
> 
> Xing Xu from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and
> Palaeoanthropology in Beijing and his colleagues found six specimens
> of the new, 77-cm-long dinosaur in the fossil beds of Liaoning
> Province, in the north-east of China. They are believed to belong to
> a new species - Microraptor gui - of the previously known genus
> Microraptor.
> 
> The researchers think that the animals lived between 124 and 145
> million years ago in trees and used their two pairs of wings, limbs
> outstretched, to glide between branches - much as flying squirrels,
> though entirely unrelated, use inter-limb skin flaps to leap from
> branch to branch.
> 
> The new specimens will certainly fuel the long-running argument about
> precisely which group of extinct reptiles are birds' closest cousins.
> 
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