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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, ptnorton@email.msn.com 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.