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Re: Microraptor Had Iridescent Plumage



On 3/9/2012 2:58 PM, Jason Brougham wrote:

But that's not my real disagreement with your hypothesis, really it's sort of 
the converse - that we have no reason to suspect bare heads OR carrion feeding 
in Microraptor. We have positive evidence of diets of small game. Not 
Confuciusornis, smaller enantiornithines. We know Microraptor's closest 
relative Sinornithosaurus did not have a bare head either.

I haven't advanced or implied any hypothesis or speculation relative to carrion-eating, or bare-heads, in Microraptor. Actually, that possibility never crossed my mind, and the leg feathers alone obviate such speculation, in my view.

I merely observed that -- "Feathery snouts do seem an unlikely condition in beakless carnivores that eat prey large enough to be messy.".

I should have made that _distal_ snouts, or even "feathery snout-tips", I suppose -- but did not, likely because feathers on the distal portion of Microraptor snouts were what were being referenced, and the context of the thread clearly indicates that feathers-on-snouts-closer-to-the-head are known.

I continue to believe that vultures are informative relative to feathers/no feathers on snout-tips -- a beakless snout will inevitably get fouled when ingesting prey to large to swallow whole -- in that sense, a feathery snout tip is functionally quite similar to the head of a bird that must routinely deal with fouling posterior to the beak when accessing soft tissue.

Actually, I had previously assumed that the above-mentioned reasoning about fouled feathers had informed the non-feathery snout-tip reconstruction.

Nice job, btw. I would have put the hallux-less critters on a larger limb, but do not think your reconstruction unrealistic, and certainly have not the skills to match it anyways.

Having been raised on Audubon images, and understanding why he did that, the possible anatomical awkwardness of Ellison's depiction does not bother me, either.

> Not Confuciusornis, smaller enantiornithines.

True. My mistake, thanks for the correction. Certainly something swallow-sized could indeed be swallowed whole.

I continue to assume, subject to new evidence surfacing, that M was beakless.

I had also assumed that the evidence indicated that M dismembered at least some prey, but that was a mistake on my part -- although I continue to think it likely.

Lastly birds preen and bathe. Maybe scavenger deinonychosaurs could have as 
well.

Scavenger deinonychosaurs? Interesting! Which ones?

Or maybe they just stank to high heaven and tolerated septic faces better.

But, but, they had iridescent feathers -- surely they took pride in their appearance! :D

One more thought, you speak of trying to clean gore out of feathers and having 
it strip the bird, a scene I commend you for braving.

Plucked many a (dead) bird, but perhaps parrot owners know more about this -- especially ones that have been severely bitten...