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Diversity of Birds

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Hey, Look At Me!
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Hey, Look At Me!

This ostrich (Struthio camelus) is using its wings for display to attract a mate.

What A Show-Off!!

Birds fascinate people and have for a long time. There is something about their grace and mobility which resonates with some folk. Many of you may even be familiar with the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci where he studied birds and flight in order to design human "wings". They didn't work, but what a dream! Take your wings out of the closet, put them on and fly to school. Oh yeah, that would be cool. "Forget fossil fuels, I got wings!" Given this situation, its easy to understand why people's minds tend to go birds to wings to flight. But for scientists that was just always a little troublesome. It just seemed to make too much sense that wings must have had a use before flight. There were theories, but where was the evidence? Turns out the evidence was in Canada, and probably other places we still haven't found.

Head Scratchers

Use the below resources to answer the following questions

  1. In what kinds of deposits have fossils showing feathers been found? How does the habitat that these fossils were found in differ from those of previous finds? What possibilities does this open up for researchers seeking to understand the roll of feathers?
  2. What do these fossils indicate was the original function of feathers? What evidence supports this contention?
  3. What do these fossils suggest was the original function of wings? What evidence suggests that this was their original function?
  4. What about these finds indicate that these dinosaurs were probably warm-blooded? Explain your thinking as fully as possible using specific examples.
  5. Do you think species of land birds lost the power of flight or never had the power of flight? Explain your reasoning fully.

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