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Re: Feduccia's allegations

At 11:53 AM -0500 1/23/03, Ronald Orenstein wrote:

Does this mean that if Feduccia could be brought to admit that the specimens of Microraptor et al were genuine in every respect, he would still argue that they had nothing to do with birds because they postdate Archaeopteryx? Unfortunately, the interviewer seems not to have asked him that one....

Remember that Microraptor is at least 20 million years after Archaeopteryx, so the fossils Xu et al found cannot be ancestral. Either it's an evolutionary throwback (living fossil), or it's an evolutionary dead-end. It's fascinating in either case, but it can't provide a definitive proof of how flight originated in birds. (The proliferation of feathered dino-birds is making it very hard to deny that birds did not evolve from theropods, however.)

What we need to show the origin of flight is a Yixian-like deposit dating before Solnhofen that preserves ancestors of Archaeopteryx. For that matter, it's very interesting that Solnhofen has not yielded any birds (or dino-birds) other than Archaeopteryx. The critical fossils probably would come from the mid to late Jurassic, not the Triassic as Feduccia suggests. -- Jeff Hecht