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Re: Feduccia's allegations

> 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.

This is one possibility, another being that Archaeopteryx 
might not actually be that close to the lineage containing 
modern birds (ie. Archaeopteryx is the 'dead end'), with 
Microraptor being the closer of the two to early birds.

Thus, Microraptor could be an important link to the origin 
of flight after all, especially since it has more bird-like 
traits than Archaeopteryx.  

Even if it is not ancestral itself (which is more than 
likely the case), it stands to reason that the feather 
morphology in Microraptor isn't so much a throwback as a 
persistent trait of the lineage (ie. many derived members 
of the group maintain it as well, but are not yet known to 
have such a feather morphology).

--Mike Habib