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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).