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Re: Archaeopteryx flight

I'd agree with Ian's assessment. It appears to be specialized for cruising flight -- which doesn't require the modern alignment for the supracoracoideus muscle, doesn't require exceptional power on the downstroke, and doesn't require a functional alula. As I mentioned previously, it is not designed for slow flight. So, it could probably fly reasonably well, but also probably launched and landed rather differently than many modern birds.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Jon Barber" <augray@sympatico.ca>
To: "Dinosaur Mailing List" <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 7:17 PM
Subject: Re: Archaeopteryx flight

At 09:54 AM 10/19/2005 -0700, Ian Paulsen wrote:
 I've been reading differing view about how well Archaeopteryx could fly.
Some sources say it was just a glider, others say it could fly like a
modern day bird. What is the current thinking about its flight patterns?

A) Archaeopteryx lacked a triosseal canal, which indicates that the tendon from the supracoracoideus muscle (which assists in the wing's upstroke in modern flying birds) wasn't in its current position.

B) Archaeopteryx lacked a V-shaped ulnare, which helps to prevent the wing from buckling on the downstroke.

C) Archaeopteryx seems to have lacked a ossified sternum for the attachment of flight muscles.

D) It lacked an alula, which assists in low-speed flight and maneuverability control.

To me, all this suggests that its flight ability was far from that of a modern bird.


Ian Paulsen
Bainbridge Island, WA, USA
A.K.A.: "Birdbooker"
"Rallidae all the way!"