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Re: Science feather strength debate
If we accept for sake of argument that there were no tertials, and that
their absence negatively impacts the gliding capabilities of Archeopteryx,
then it seems all that is left is to quantify this impact.
Is the loss in gliding efficiency enough to prevent gliding, or merely
enough to make it less efficient? If Archaeopteryx had pretty low wing
loading then maybe it could glide quite nicely without high efficiency.
Lastly, perhaps Archaeopteryx's poor gliding potential is one line of
evidence that it flapped well. Though they may be decisive for gliding,
tertials are the least important feathers in flapping flight.