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Re: As a voracious reader-yet-amateur, how does this upset the applecart?

"If birds descended from dinosaurs, we would expect
the same 1, 2 and 3 pattern,"

...and that's indeed what we find. What Feduccia & friends call the "thumb" is the prepollex, and "Element X" is the 5th digital ray. I'll dig up the references later... or do it yourself, they've all been discussed in the archives.

While probably not impossible (see kiwi fingers), the frameshift hypothesis is simply unnecessary.