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Re: Fw: Dinosaurs and birds

On Wednesday, April 4, 2007, at 08:08 PM, don ohmes wrote:

Not sure I understand, from the perspective of a 'ground-up' selective process that can transform a terrestrial mud-lover into a barn swallow, where the line between volancy and various forms of wing-assisted running is (inclines are NOT necessary, in my opinion). Once Archies ability to flap synchronously is established, then the question of volancy in Arch. requires drawing that line, does it not? So my question is, has that been done?

The incline is necessary, because without it there is no requirement to produce a lift force towards the substrate, which is the critical aspect of wing assisted running. In the WAIR dynamics, the flapping is not utilized to generate better climbing speed via thrust; the bird is generating increased vertical momentum indirectly by elevating the frictional force on the hind limbs. If the animal is running on a level substrate, then producing a lift force is usually not particularly helpful, and can actually be counter-productive under some scenarios (as would probably be the case for basal birds).

Many living birds utilize running takeoffs, and some of them flap heavily while launching. However, most of those birds are semiaquatic, and the wings are important in the early to mid launch mostly because the lift elevates the bird slightly from the aquatic medium and allows for the animal to run on the water surface to reach its launch window. Only late in the running launch is the oscillation of the wings really helping the bird get into the air directly. Most birds use a leaping launch. In that case, the wings contribute more heavily to reaching flight speed, and are brought to bear in full earlier in the launch cycle. Also note that a running launch is derived in semiaquatic birds, and not the basal condition.


--Mike H.