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Re: Gliders to Fliers? (Was Re: Ruben Strikes Back)
In a message dated 10/1/99 4:44:34 PM EST, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
<< The problem I have with the concept of the tail being the first aerodynamic
surface to develop is that it would place the center of lift for the
unfortunate animal well aft of its center of gravity; which would cause it
to tumble in a---well---an ass over tea-kettle motion. Not particularly
adaptive. A more probable gliding scenario is one that would select a
critter with a center of lift at or near the animal's center of center of
gravity. This is precisely what we see in all extant quadrapedal scansorial
and/or arboreal gliders. >>
The tail didn't do much lifting at first; it helped to stabilize leaps
through the air between branches, much as the fletching on an arrow keeps its
trajectory under control. When wings started to develop, the already useful
tail helped to stabilize the trajectory like the tail of an aircraft does.
Here tail lift is more useful and would be selected for.