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Re: Science feather strength debate



On Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 3:50 AM, Jason Brougham <jaseb@amnh.org> wrote:

> So perhaps one day  an overwhelming body of evidence will demonstrates that 
> it was a littoral scavenger that roosted in trees overhanging lakes, and 
> parachuted
> down to the shoreline to forage. You and I think that this is highly 
> unlikely, but that doesn't matter.


Just briefly... I would rate this particular scenario as quite likely.
 In other words, that _Confuciusornis_ was a littoral scavenger that
roosted in trees overhanging lakes, and travelled down to the
shoreline to forage.  However, its aerial locomotor capabilities could
have gone beyond simple parachuting, given that even a rudimentary
flight stroke would be enough to generate lift and thrust, which
qualifies as powered (flapping) flight.


Even the modern hoatzin, which is an exceptionally poor flier, can
travel up to 30-40 m in the air.  In the case of the hoatzin, the poor
flight ability is secondary, and because the flight muscles and keel
have been reduced in order to make room for an expanded crop (which
also weighs down the bird, especially when full).


I know _Confuciusornis_ has been interpreted as a fish-eater that flew
over lakes skimming for fish.  But only one _Confuciusornis_ specimen
among hundreds is reported to show fish bones in the gut region, which
suggests that fish were perhaps not the main component of its diet.



Cheers

Tim