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Re: Shaking up the bird family tree

We could do an allometric studies... But in principle all those
reductions could be controled by a single gene - if it is placed in
the right point of developmental control cascade: say, one that
control the AER tempo.

True; that is a possibility, which is why the rapid regain of the functional flight apparatus is still a possibility, albeit still a bit of a long shot.. There could be a small number of genes involved, but the current evidence does not seem to support such a simple timing switch for all of the aforementioned traits (and avian development is pretty well known, at least assuming chicken models are applicable to other groups). Quite a few of them could be affected in unison via timing mutations (especially sternal complex and pectoralis mass). However, wing length and forelimb structural strength appear to be a bit more complicated.

Like you said, a combination of allometric studies and genetic timing research might better determine likelihood.


--Mike H.

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