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Re: Ah ha! That's where therizinosaurs came from

Jaime Headden <qi_leong@hotmail.com> wrote:

> This kind of actually starts with the recovery of *Protarchaeopteryx robusta* 
> as an oviraptorosaur, which has arms close to the length of its legs -- which 
> are themselves not terribly short.

I picture an animal very much like _Protarchaeopteryx_ as closest to
what the first aerial maniraptoran looked like - and possessing large
pennaceous forelimb feathers.  So the name "_Protarchaeopteryx_" may
not be so inappropriate after all.

>   As Tim Williams continually points out in this debate, and in connection 
> with the Dececchia & Larsson paper just recently published by _PLoS ONE_, 
> there must be a way to distinguish an actual
> FLIGHT-character from a character in which the function may be related, but 
> not essentially for flight. This is something Paul has not done, and which is 
> I think generally futile as there are few taxa we
> can actually assess the mechanical properties of which exhibit these 
> features, are not themselves related to actual fliers, and thus can be used 
> to discriminate "true" and "apparent" flight characters.

Yes, I do continually point this out, don't I?  I'm kind of a broken
record on this issue.  ;-)

"Flight-related" characters can originate in three ways.  (1) For
purposes associated with aerial locomotion, but not true flight.
Long, pennaceous feathers probably fit this category.  (2) For
purposes totally unrelated to any kind of aerial locomotion.  The
furcula fits this category.  (3) For purposes directly associated with
true flight.  The alula fits this category.