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A new method to calculate palaeogravity
using fossil feathers

Stephen W. Hurrell


Abstract

A recent paper on the ancient birds Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis has shown that their feathers would not be able to support the weight of the birds in flight. The authors therefore suggested that the birds could not fly. This suggestion remains debatable since other authors have highlighted various features that indicate these birds did fly. In this paper, values for gravity which would enable these birds to fly with weaker feathers are calculated based on the controversial theory that palaeogravity was less. These values are then compared with earlier estimates of palaeogravity derived from a range of other life forms from approximately the same time period.

Key Words:  Palaeogravity, Archaeopteryx, Confuciusornis, fossil feathers, feather evolution

Published 24 July 2014

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Page last updated 09Aug14

Fossil Archaeopteryx showing feather impressions