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Re: Science feather strength debate
I am sure that your reasoning and evidence are solid, and I can certainly
believe that Archaeopteryx had no tertiaries. Yet I am curious why your
excellent 2007 monograph on the tenth Archeopteryx mentions faint, fuzzy,
impressions which "may stem from the tertiaries"? The outline drawn in figure 3
also shows what may be tertiaries. That truly is a breathtaking paper,
congratulations on it.
I am myself always very wary about making definitive statements about plumage
based on negative evidence. I'm not even convinced that Scansoriopterygids
didn't have wings.
The reason is the type specimen of Longipteryx, IVPP V 12325. (Chinese Science
Bulletin vol. 46 no. 11 june 2001) It preserves body feathers and fuzzy
secondary coverts, but apparently no primaries or secondaries at all. Certainly
no large rachises are there. It has a keeled sternum and is an obvious powered
flier, but the primaries and secondaries just didn't preserve.
Again, I consider it risky to make conclusive statements based on reasoning
like "if the tail feathers are preserved, why aren't the wing feathers? It must
not have had any". Fossilization is too complex and contingent to be sure of
such matters, and I feel like we're always one fossil away from being proven
On Nov 15, 2010, at 10:36 AM, Scott Hartman wrote:
>> I'm not wholly convinced that _Archaeopteryx_ lacked humeral feathers
>> (= tertiaries or tertials).
> As I presented at SVP in 2007 the tenth specimen actually demonstrates
> that Archaeopteryx lacked tertials...specifically because it shows an
> imprint by the humerus that clearly isn't a veined feather. Whether
> it represents an inprint from the body, or could represent some sort
> of extension of the soft "dinofuzz" material onto the arm it simply
> isn't even close to a flight feather. And because there is an
> impression there, and moreover one made from a far more delicate sort
> of soft tissue then the relatively stiff flight feathers, it's no
> longer tenable to argue that it's some sort of trick of preservation.
> Archaeopteryx lacked tertials.
> Scott Hartman
> Scientific Advisor/Technical Illustrator
> (307) 921-9750
Senior Principal Preparator
American Museum of Natural History
(212) 496 3544