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Re: Flightless pterosaur question:

On Mar 25, 2010, at 7:42 AM, David Peters wrote:

but as for your swand and buzzard answer, I have no problem with large mass evenly distributed so that the center of mass is at the wing root. The only mention of mass I made was a mass shift, either forward or back. Any pilot knows you have to figure out where the luggage and passengers go with regard to balance.

Mass balance is not unimportant in flying animals, but it need not follow the same rules as for commercial aircraft. Flying animals are unstable flyers, while commercial aircraft are passively stable. Placing the center of mass fore or aft of the center of lift (note this is not necessarily aligned with the wing root) will produce a pitching moment. This is undesirable in an aircraft that you wish to keep stable, but not altogether a big deal for a flying animal, so long as the pitching moment isn't extreme.