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Re: FYI -- Microraptor gui, Burnham and Alexander, PNAS...



 "[...] _M. gui_'s feathered hindwings, although effective for
 gliding, would have seriously hampered terrestrial locomotion."

Well, rearticulating the disarticulated femora wouldn't be easy...

 "New anatomical information based on the discovery of several hundred
 specimens similar to the four-winged glider _M. gui_ (and related
 taxa) has produced converging lines of evidence demonstrating that
 the original describers of _M. gui_ (5) were correct in their
 interpretation of the flight posture."

 I really hope the authors are not arguing that posture-in-death
 reflects posture-in-life.  Strange things happen to ligaments after a
 creature dies.  Besides, once a creature has shed its mortal coils it
 no longer feels excruciating pain when muscles are stretched or
 twisted beyond their limits in life.

Remember the photos of *M. zhaoianus* in Hwang et al. (2002)? Spread-eagle pose, and yet the femora are articulated with the ilia -- it's just that the ilia are cracked: the dorsal part is vertical, and the ventral part, together with the entire legs, is horizontal.

I do hope the paper contains good photos of some of these "several hundred specimens".

 How adept can you be in the trees, when movement at the wrist and
 ankle joints are each confined to a single plane (arboreal mammals
 tend to have highly flexible wrists and ankles), and neither the hand
 nor pes was capable of prehension?

I wonder if they even thought that far. Humans have a disturbing tendency to assume that everyone shares their extraordinary forelimb mobility.