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WAIR behaviour energy costs -- random speculations
I have not yet had the time to explore it further, but
some notes from my files are of use. Flapping flight
among dinosaurs, bats, and pterosaurs necessarily is
equivalent to high levels of metabolic expenditure.
Research in Europe with nectar-eating bats has focused
on time budget analyses of the ability of these small
taxa to sustain natural flight rhythms and rest
periods. We can, using their figures, do some
speculative extrapolations: for a feathered dinosaur
to use WAIR behaviour, based on animal of, say, ca.
28-50 g, we can speculate that metabolic WAIR
behaviour (and here I am speaking of animal capable of
flight, but which may choose WAIR vs. taking off)
increases with body mass. Metabolic flight power (PF)
= m 0.771 (R2 [squared] = 0.96, n = 13, PF in W, M in
kg). This is for a small feathered dinosaur, using the
size of a small glossophagine bat, and is ca. 25%
below metabolic costs of flight in larger small
feathered dinosaurs. In other words, a very small
feathered dinosaur, similar in size to glossophagines,
could use less energy with WAIR than for a somewhat
larger dinosaur using the same behaviour, and, hence,
would be quick enough to escape leaping predators.
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