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Re: Wing Feather Arrangement in Archaeopteryx and Anchiornis



> Nicholas R. Longrich, Jakob Vinther, Qingjin Meng, Quangguo Li &
> Anthony P. Russell (2012)
> Primitive Wing Feather Arrangement in Archaeopteryx lithographica and
> Anchiornis huxleyi.
> Current Biology (advance online publication)
> doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.09.052
> http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982212011943


Interesting stuff.


One thing that is not explicitly mentioned by Longrich et al. is that
_Archaeopteryx_ and _Anchiornis_ (and _Microraptor_ and _Pedopenna_
too) also have elongate hindlimb feathers.  These "hindwings" (=
"butt-fans") of _Archaeopteryx_ and _Pedopenna_ even preserve coverts.
 So I wonder if the "multi-tiered"nature of the wings has something to
do with the presence of these "hindwings"?


Also, Figure 4. highlights just how large the space was between the
wing and the body, with apparently no tertials to fill the gap.  This
is another major difference between the wings of _Archaeopteryx_ and
non-avialans compared to the modern/neornithean wing.


Longrich et al. can be added to the list of publications that are
pointedly unenthusiastic about WAIR being a primordial flight
behavior.  They seem to favor a "trees-down" origin of avian flight.
However, this has to be reconciled with the conspicuous absence of
arboreal adaptations in any non-avialan theropod, including the
"winged" ones mentioned above.






Cheers

Tim