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RE: Microraptor Had Iridescent Plumage



From:  Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

The long metatarsal feathers on Microraptor are clearly asymmetrical
and so must have had an aerodynamic function with no analog in modern
birds. The alula functions to prevent stalls in landing when the wings
in modern birds are at a high angle of attack. Microraptor likely
glided and landed differently from any modern birds as suggested by
studies and illustrations. If it often landed belly-forward on
vertical tree-trunks more like a flying squirrel as the artwork
suggests rather than belly-downward on branches or the ground as
modern birds do, an alula may not have worked. Clearly a better
understanding of the function of the metatarsal feathers is needed.

The artwork also shows Microraptors perched on branches. I'm wondering
if a Microraptor could actually land on a branch like a modern bird.