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Re: Science feather strength debate
On 11/15/2010 10:22 PM, Jason Brougham wrote:
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.
And perhaps inboard wing feathers are very poorly attached in birds that
do not flap very well.
And are we also assuming that the shoulder did not constrain the
The feathers between the elbow and the armpit are much easier to pluck
that the feathers distal to the elbow in all the individuals of all the
species I have handled.
That does not prove that Arch. had feathers between the elbow and the
body in life, and I see no reason to question the claim that these
feathers are absent from the fossils.
I do see reason to question the claim that there is no scenario leading
to the preservation of primaries, tail feathers and "dinofuzz", but
non-preservation of the feathers along the humerus.
There is opportunity and need for science to be done, it seems to me --
measuring relative strength of feather attachment among species of
varying flight styles, and observation of deceased birds under
conditions similar to Solnhofen -- high salinity, warm anoxic water, and
low energy, at least on the bottom.
How long does the body float? Surely there must have been some wave
action on the surface as the various Archies decomposed enough to sink
-- multiple scenarios could be practically tested there, too.
What is the relative buoyancy of different types of feathers under such
I remain moderately hopeful someone has already done something along
these lines at some point in time.