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Re: New claw paper, was RE: Early Birds Lived on the Ground

Yep, it's a good analysis and a good paper.  Well done Chris & Mike.

And Tim is absolutely right - the dichotomy is artificial and is not helpful. It's the same old problem that continually dogs functional morphology - you need to get away from what you think anatomical structures are *for*, and look at what living animals *do* with them.

Colin (Taking time to post on the DML 'cos I'm supposed to be doing my tax return....)

Tim Williams wrote:
Chris Glen wrote:

OK, was holding off on posting a heads up to DML on the paper as there's the issue of the online Supp Data they've put online being an old draft rather than the final corrected editor's version. I've been
assured this will be rectified ASAP. bit of a shame...

I have to say I really liked this paper. Firstly because it reinforces my pre-conceived notions about early bird evolution, and that gives me a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside.

The second reason is that it hammers home just how arbitrary and misleading the old "trees-down" vs 
"ground-up" dichotomy was (and still is).  Many modern birds divide their time between the trees and the 
ground - so why not the earliest birds and their immediate ancestors?  Unfortunately, too many hypotheses have assumed 
that "arboreal" and "cursorial" were mutually exclusive when it comes to the behavior of 
pro-avians.  'BCF' comes to mind (but then again, BCF is just plain silly).  Other ideas also fall into this trap, such 
as the hypothesis that pro-avians glided from tree to tree and rarely ventured onto terra firma.  This goes against the 
grain of the entire osteology of theropods, especially the hindlimb morphology.

It'd be interesting to see how avisaurids wash up in all this, given that this is one non-neornithean Mesozoic bird group that shows anatomical evidence in support of specialized perching.



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Colin McHenry
Computation Biomechanics Research Group http://www.compbiomech.com/
School of Engineering (Mech Eng)
University of Newcastle
NSW 2308

t: +61 2 4921 8879