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Re: Microraptor Had Iridescent Plumage
On 3/9/2012 3:21 PM, David Marjanovic wrote:
2) In my experience, hair/fur is durable and easy to clean relative to
> feathers. Cleaning dried blood off of feathers usually results in a
> bald patch.
I suppose that depends on the feathers.
In birds, either the feather or the underlying skin itself sloughs very
easily -- (I note my experience is limited to the usual game and
domestic birds, up to turkeys of the eating variety in size). Coagulated
blood patches are actually helpful when plucking ducks and chickens.
That said, tough skin, firm attachment, and 'self-cleaning' feathers on
Microraptor certainly are not to be ruled out, in my view.
But am I correct in stating that "primitive" feathers, while not the
same as modern feathers, do not show any particular evidence of being
able to function as camo, display, insulation or lifting planes (or
permutations thereof) when fouled w/ blood? Or of being attached in some
> 3) Mammals have tongues that are highly optimized to cleaning reachable
> areas, which includes lips (sensu 'hairy') and forelimbs that function
> well as 'wash cloths' -- cleaning is even a logical reason that
> dewclaws are retained in (e.g.) canid forelimbs.
You're likely right about the tongues -- but concerning forelimbs, well, maybe
you just found the reason why the finger claws weren't reduced to their extant
size range any earlier in the ancestry of birds. I really should have thought
of this earlier.
Cleaning parasites, anyways -- and they would be handy for vertical
climbing. I wonder if Hoatzin juveniles use their claws for grooming...
But relative to cleaning blood off the snout, you would just be cleaning
feathers w/ more feathers, and (I assume) no handy tongue to
subsequently clean the wings.