feather strength, which is an interesting approach, but may suffer from significant error is feather measurements or body mass estimates are imprecise. I take my own approach to the problem, which is to look at the bending strength of the bones, rather than the feathers. I've done this for a wide range of living birds, but only a couple of specimens of Archaeopteryx, which is why I have yet to formally publish the results (though I have given a conference presentation on them at SVP). One of the specimens I have data for is the Munich Archaeopteryx, shown in the photo at left. It's not the best photo, but I managed to grab it quickly while measuring the specimen at the BSPG in Munich, Germany. Regardless of the ultimate flight status of Archaeopteryx, working with a specimen of this historical importance was a real treat. My special thanks goes out to David Hone, who organized the meeting where I examined the specimen.
I will be writing more on Archaeopteryx and other species relevant to the origin of birds in the coming months. I have quite a few posts lined up on the topic; some more quantitative than others. For now, however, it is back to my teaching duties, so today's installment is necessarily brief.