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Re: Biplane birds of the Mesozoic

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On Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 11:08 AM, Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com> wrote:
> From: Ben Creisler
> bcreisler@gmail.com
> In the new issue of Science:
> Xiaoting Zheng, Zhonghe Zhou, Xiaoli Wang, Fucheng Zhang, Xiaomei
> Zhang, Yan Wang, Guangjin Wei, Shuo Wang & Xing Xu (2013)
> Hind Wings in Basal Birds and the Evolution of Leg Feathers.
> Science 339 (6125): 1309-1312
> DOI: 10.1126/science.1228753
> http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6125/1309
> Recent discoveries of large leg feathers in some theropods have
> implications for our understanding of the evolution of integumentary
> features on the avialan leg, and particularly of their relevance for
> the origin of avialan flight. Here we report 11 basal avialan
> specimens that will greatly improve our knowledge of leg integumentary
> features among early birds. In particular, they provide solid evidence
> for the existence of enlarged leg feathers on a variety of basal
> birds, suggest that extensively scaled feet might have appeared
> secondarily at an early stage in ornithuromorph evolution, and
> demonstrate a distal-to-proximal reduction pattern for leg feathers in
> avialan evolution.
> ===
> Michael Balter (2013)
> Dramatic Fossils Suggest Early Birds Were Biplanes.
> Science 339 (6125): 1261
> DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6125.1261
> http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6125/1261.summary
> When the Wright brothers took to the skies from Kitty Hawk in December
> 1903, they did it in a biplane, a craft with two pairs of parallel
> wings. Most early aircraft were biplanes, but by the 1930s, the faster
> monoplane design, with just two wings, dominated aviation. On page
> 1309, a Chinese team presents dramatic new fossils suggesting that
> early birds went through a similar evolution, starting off with wings
> on both arms and legs and only later adopting the arms-only, monoplane
> configuration.