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pterosaur take-off analog



Last night Animal Planet - Wild Pacific - Eat or Be Eaten, fledgling albatrosses were shown getting hungry on their small beach environs, parents absent. Most were spreading their wings in the elevated configuration. Some ventured into shallow waters to float while doing the same thing. There they became shark bait, but that's not the point here. The wind, as it picked up, gently carried them aloft, out of harm's way and off on their first trans-oceanic voyages. Sure there were some running take-offs, but heading into the wind made everything much easier. They were light on their feet and flapping was not really much of an issue.

Pterosaur wings were like those of sailplanes (when properly reconstructed). Maybe calculations involving take-offs should be modified to reflect different wind conditions. The above scenario seemed especially appropriate for certain derived ornithocheirids, which, by all indications, had the smallest pelves and feet of all. Certainly smaller pteros were big on flapping and there would have been a spectrum of abilities in between the smallest and largest.

David Peters
St. Louis