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Re: The ACTUAL flying Microraptor paper in PNAS
Phillip Bigelow <email@example.com> wrote:
> > M. gui's feathered hindwings,
> > although effective for gliding,
> > would have seriously hampered
> > terrestrial locomotion.
> Couldn't tuck those feathers in when not needed, hmmm?
> I wonder how they came to that conclusion?
So do I, Philip; so do I. This "conclusion" appears to be an assumption,
In their description of _Microraptor gui_, Xu et al. (2003) made essentially
the same assumption as Alexander et al. (2010): that the long metatarsal
feathers would be a hindrance to terrestrial locomotion. Xu et al. even go far
as to say "The metatarsus feathers are inconsistent with the suggestions that
basal dromaeosaurs are cursorial animals", and that microraptors were "arboreal
animals". This seems more than a bit OTT. Sure, _Microraptor_ probably
couldn't run very fast, but that doesn't mean that it was non-terrestrial.
Peafowl (_Pavo_) are predominantly terrestrial, despite the males (peacocks)
having to lug around that huge feathery train. So an elaborate plumage doesn't
necessarily preclude terrestrial habits. Peafowl aren't exactly "cursorial",
but they are hardly "arboreal" either. Peafowl are omnivores that feed and
nest on the ground, and live in forests. Good cursorial abilities aren't much
use in close habitat.
So in short: the presence of large hindlimb feathers in no way means that
_Microraptor_ was predominantly or exclusively arboreal. It probably spend
some time up in trees; but the osteology strongly suggests that (like every
other non-avian theropod) it was poorly adapted for arboreal locomotion.