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Re: Eoconfuciusornis, Paraprotopteryx, Pengornis, Aberratiodontus and other basal birds




Not
like in _Piksi_ which I presume has the annoying
tendency to attach to any weak-flying ornithothoracine
(as was elegantly demonstrated in the original
description, where it attached itself to a "clade" of
galliforms, tinamous and terrestrial pigeons).

Considering that the "clade" in question includes a range of burst- launching species, I'm not sure I'd call them weak-flying taxa.


I make mention of this not to be irritating, but because it has important functional ramifications for understanding the paleoecology and evolution of fossil birds: it is very common to consider galliforms and other burst-specialists as 'poor flyers' because they lack much endurance flight capacity. However, biomechanically speaking, they require stronger bone elements, greater muscle power, and greater forelimb excursion (at the shoulder, primarily) than most other birds - the flight apparatus of such animals is actually quite derived, and in some respects, rather hypertrophied. If Piksi was indeed galliform-like (in the functional sense), then it would have been a rather more advanced flyer than many (if not most) other Cretaceous birds.

Cheers,

--Mike


Michael Habib, M.S. PhD. Candidate Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution Johns Hopkins School of Medicine 1830 E. Monument Street Baltimore, MD 21205 (443) 280-0181 habib@jhmi.edu