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RE: Science feather strength debate

  One of the big issues with this debate is that some particular debaters are 
basing their arguments on corollary subjects that are only tangential to the 
taxa assumed to fly/not fly. Specifically, for example, it is argued that 
*Archaeopteryx* is close to birds, apparently a descendant or a progenitor of 
flying animals, and therefore should fly --- or that it had asymmetrical 
feathers, therefore could fly, etc. These arguments, while adding up, do not 
any of themselves say "I can fly," but this is the statement nonetheless. It is 
useless to assess these subjects with nothing less than full-bore scrutiny so 
as to actually answer the scientific query "Can *Archaeopteryx* fly?"[1]

[1] It should be restated (in my opinion) that I am tired of people instead 
asking "How can *Archaeopteryx* fly?" as this assumes from the assessors 
perspective an immediate "yes" to the first question, rather than determining 
"flight" and various other assumptions. This is often related to the other 
red-herring false corollary of "arboreal habits means flying habits," or "close 


Jaime A. Headden
The Bite Stuff (site v2)

"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a
different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race
has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or
his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion 

> Date: Wed, 3 Nov 2010 08:41:44 -0300
> From: augustoharo@gmail.com
> To: tijawi@gmail.com
> CC: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Subject: Re: Science feather strength debate
> 2010/11/2 Tim Williams :
> > Yes, very true.  You have to wonder, if _Archaeopteryx_ had been
> > discovered without the feathers preserved... would anyone think to
> > suggest that it could *fly*?
> May the lenght of the forelimb coupled with the inferred phylogenetic
> allegiances of the material (with recent birds), still suggest so?