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Re: Primary feather stiffness in Mesozoic birds
On Jan 24, 2012, at 5:22 PM, Mike Keesey wrote:
>> WANG, X., NUDDS, R. L., PALMER, C. and DYKE, G. J. (2012)
>> Size scaling and stiffness of avian primary feathers: implications for
>> the flight of Mesozoic birds.
>> Adding fossil measurement data to our DFA showed
>> that Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis do not overlap with extant
>> birds. This strongly suggests that the bending stiffness of their
>> primary feathers was different to extant birds and provides further
>> evidence for distinctive flight styles and likely limited flight
>> ability in Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis.
> So ... were their feathers bendier or stiffer than modern bird
> feathers? (I don't have access to the paper.)
For Confuciusornis, the resultant discriminant analysis suggests that the
feathers would be more compliant than a similarly sized modern bird (i.e.
bendier). However, the result for Archaeopteryx is less clear - it falls
between two of their primary modern species clouds in discriminant space, but
the result is not objectively "lower" or "higher". It is simply sitting in a
relatively unoccupied area of the components plot. This is why the authors
simply say "distinctive" rather than indicating a polarity.
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