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Re: Flying pterosaurs (was Re: Walking with Dinos)
There's an awful lot of truth in Martin's comments. Qn's reaction time was on
the same order of magnitude as his short-term pitch oscillations, so at least
part of his gust load response had to be automatic, and you should see some
semi-random responses in the wing even while the animal is not flapping. Re the
vibration, I would speculate that the animals' local control mechanisms kept
that from spreading while they were controlling the generally large disparity
between spanwise and chordwise tension in the pterosaur flight membrane.
Flutter was often almost incipient in pterosaurs, and in the big pterodactyls
(sort of like the structural failures flutter causes in airplanes), it would
have immediately dislocated joints or torn tendons and ligaments if allowed to
occur in flight. There appear to have been at least four mechanisms that
controlled this, and two of them would have been visible in flight.
Martin Barnett wrote: