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Origin of flight

Could ‘four-winged’ dinosaurs fly? (Reply)


We agree that a strict biomechanical analysis is needed to reconstruct Microraptor's locomotory mode, but we disagree with several of Padian and Dial's arguments1. In addition to the six Microraptor specimens we described2, other similarly preserved specimens3 have been discovered that also had long, asymmetrical pennaceous feathers attached to the hindlimbs2. These feathers show features that are functionally correlated with flight4. A large, feathery surface on the legs would increase, rather than decrease1, drag during running, as evidenced by the reduced or lost filamentous integumentary structures on the lower legs of cursorial birds and mammals.

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Correspondence to Xing Xu.

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Xu, X., Zhou, Z., Wang, X. et al. Could ‘four-winged’ dinosaurs fly? (Reply). Nature 438, E3–E4 (2005).

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