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RE: Senter 2006, Confuciusornis, and humeral mobility



Mr. Headden,

Please watch these Sooty Shearwaters using WAIR to climb trees so that
they can takeoff. These things have webbed feet, no arboreal adaptations,
and apparently don't have the power to takeoff from the ground:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cjmtt_B_i4A

Can't you picture Confuciusornis doing the same thing?

Other birds with very pointed wings that inhabit inland bodies of water in
 forests include the Wood Sandpiper, Curlews, and Common Snipe.

>   These birds do not suffer... the absence of an alula (for landing
>controls)

True, and that should be kept in mind. Yet Confuciusornis DID retain a
jointed wing finger which opens the possibility that it could modify the
configurations of its primaries, thus radcally changing the shape of the
wingtip (possibly even rolling it up and/or cupping it). The motions of
the fingers are crucial in the flight of bats.

I was surprised to see such a  textbook case of Wing Assisted Incline
Running in those Shearwaters. Over and over I am taught the lesson that
one can perpetually argue over what is possible or impossible for an
animal to do, and then one film of a real animal can wipe out all of that
reasoning in a moment. That may be my bias, since Carl Gans was my first
mentor, and he spent his career trying to measure and record what diapsids
could do in the lab.

-Jason