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Re: Sinocalliopteryx (Theropoda: Compsognathidae) ate confuciusornithids and dromaeosaurids

On Sat, September 1, 2012 2:40 am, Tim Williams wrote:
> Like you, my gut tells me that basal avialans were indeed capable of
> some rudimentary form of powered flight; and that these critters (such
> as _Archaeopteryx_, _Confuciusornis_, _Jeholornis_, _Sapeornis_, etc)
> possessed low-amplitude, principally deltoideus-driven flapping
> abilities.  However, AFAIK the work showing that _Archaeopteryx_ and
> _Confuciusornis_ could *not* raise the humerus any higher than their
> back has yet to be directly refuted in the literature.  So until that
> day comes, I think it's worth exploring the possibility that basal
> avialans were *not* capable of flapping flight, and were gliders.  It
> might actually be correct.  Nothing would surprise me.
On top of all this, I think there is an unconscious assumption in a lot of
discussions that the flight states are "stuck on the ground like a turtle"
vs. "as aerial as a sparrow or starling". But consider that many modern
birds do perfectly well with what from a sparrow's point of view are
extremely limited modes of flight: birds like galliforms, for instance.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
Fax: 301-314-9661

Faculty Director, Science & Global Change Program, College Park Scholars
Fax: 301-314-9843

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
                        Building 237, Room 1117
                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA