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I was reading an article from the Economist and found this sentence quite hard to make out.

How come nothing has feathers anymore that doesn't fly, or isn't descended from something that did?

I understand “how come” means “why” but is there some part of the sentence omitted or simply missing?

Here’s the paragraph:

So if you want to be an evolution sceptic, the fossil record just becomes another set of data you can poke holes in, along with the theory. After all, nobody understands what function feathers served before they were used for flight. If they were for mating displays, why did they turn out to be perfect for aerodynamics? How come nothing has feathers anymore that doesn't fly, or isn't descended from something that did? Darwin's theory can't explain it! And so on.

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  • It is a poorly worded double negative. It took me two reads before I understood it. A better better worded double negative would be, How come nothing that has feathers doesn't fly. Removing the double negative you get, How come everything with feathers flies? In context this effectively asks the question Where are the flightless, feathered animals?
    – EllieK
    Sep 16, 2021 at 16:43

1 Answer 1

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I believe the general notion of what the question is is:

"If there were creatures before that had feathers but didn't fly AND didn't descend from something that flies, why are there NOW no creatures that have feathers, don't fly, and don't descend from something that flies?"

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