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Re: aerodynamics of pterosaur wings
Durn, I left out a trailing quote mark, which would make it possible to
attribute some of my remarks to Matt and Charlie. Sorry, M&C. Here's
a second attempt. I hope this one gets it right.
Do any of you guys have the following paper? If so, may I get a copy of
it from you? I haven't been able to make contact with Charlie or Matt
and have seen only the abstract, some of which I quote later in this
Thanks for your help,
Abstracts/Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A 134 (2003)
A6.5 - Flying with sails: the aerodynamics of pterosaur wings, M.T.
Wilkinson and C.P. Ellington, Dept. of Zoology, University of Cambridge.
In this abstract, which touches upon the windtunnel testing of their
pterosaur wing model, Charlie and Matt say,
"Most significantly, the pteroid - a slender bone that articulated at
the wrist - appears to have been directed antero-ventrally in flight and
would have supported a broad forewing in the proximal part of the wing".
They go on to say, "the increased camber also caused extensive flow
separation, and the deflected forewing obstructed the airflow over the
ventral surface of the wing at low angles of attack [INSERT BY JIMC -
'LOW ANGLES OF ATTACK' OCCUR DURING CRUISE FLIGHT]. Hence the profile
drag coefficients were very high, and the best lift:drag ratios for the
wing were low, ranging between 5.0 and 9.2".
Comments below are by JimC.
Needless to say, L/D ratios on the order of 5 to 9 are totally
unsuitable for soaring flight, so it would seem that Charlie's and
Matt's abstract implies either that pterosaurs were incapable of soaring
flight -- or that their pteroid orientation and forewing assumption are
If any of you folks can forward me a copy, it would be much appreciated.