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FW: Yet more on dinosaur quad climbers
Mike, Do you think that the feathers of Anchiornis, as described in Longrich et
al. (2012), may be good candidates for an 'almost' flight feather, or more
likely to be a degenerate flight feather?
The authors here suggested that the remiges may have been less stiff
individually, but there were more layers in the wing producing, in essence, a
From: Mike Habib <email@example.com>
Of course. And the immediate precursor to flight feathers was presumably an
"almost" flight feather - likely vaned, interlocking, and relatively large -
but just short of the morphology required for aerial locomotion. This is what
I meant by a "precursor"
in this context. Some maniraptorans had small wings, but were not aerial
animals in the strict sense. Their near-flight grade feathers therefore
presumably evolved in a non-aerial context. This could still be a
lift-dominated context, a drag-dominated context,
or a non-aerodynamic context (such as display or protection). It could also
be a combination of any of those three.
Regardless, there needs to be a mechanism to move from a relatively
non-aerodynamically active feather to a highly aerodynamically active feather,
and that is going to necessitate some morphology that is very nearly "good
enough" for flight, but not quite.
Since an animal with such feathers wasn't flying, the feathers have to get at
least that far without flight as a factor.
Assistant Professor of Cell and Neurobiology
Keck School of Medicine of USC
University of Southern California
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1333 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles 90089-9112