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Re: 11th specimen of Archaeopteryx
Heinz Peter Bredow <email@example.com> wrote:
> It contains a report about an 11th specimen of Archaeopteryx,
> with very well preserved bones and feathers but no skull.
> This specimen will be displayed with some other specimens of Archaeopteryx
> at the end of this month at the Münchner Mineralientage.
The importance of _Archaeopteryx_ to the evolution of flight has been
receding over the past decade - long before the phylogeny of Xu et al.
(2011) relegated it to the deinonychosaurian branch (which may change
at some point in the future).
Archie may actually have little relevance to the origin of the modern
avian flight apparatus. The flight abilities of Archie were not only
exceedingly weak, but with its long tail adorned with a "rectricial
frond" it probably represents a novel form of flight, very different
to that of modern birds. It is possible that archaeopterygids,
microraptorines and jeholornithids each represent separate experiments
in aerial flight behavior, none of which was ancestral to the modern
avian mode of flight. Short-tailed proto-birds like _Sapeornis_ might
be far more relevant to how modern birds came to fly - and there are
literally dozens of _Sapeornis_ specimens.
Of course, none of this detracts from the discovery of another Archie
specimen. Looking forward to the paper.