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Re: Science feather strength debate

> You often hear of Archie being a 'poor flyer', but that's
> only in comparison to modern birds. I think 
> that's an unfair comparison though - a bit like criticising
> Isaac Newton for not mentioning relativity 
> or quantum physics. For its time, and as compared to other
> dinosaurs, Archie was probably quite 
> good at aerial locomotion (relatively speaking).

I agree, 
Of course the first birds would be weak fliers relative to most modern birds.
In theory, a modern loon could soar thermals, and in certain environments 
routinely go hundreds of miles without flapping....
they don't though, hawks, vultures, etc are much better at thermal soaring (I 
don't know that they travel that far, I just know that they could easily do so 
given their wing loading and glide ratio, relative to ultralight human aircraft 
that can routinely do so).
One wouldn't expect to see a loon trying to thermal soar, considering the 
competition it has.
It does show, however, that modern birds are far far far above the threshold 
for flight.

The threshold for what is useful, is remarkably low in some areas. At these 
areas, many man-made gliders, if you were to watch them from the ground, would 
appear quite good at flying. 
If you were to be in the glider, trying to follow a bird (pretty much any bird, 
aside from Penguins, Ostriches, and the like), only then would you conclude the 
flight capabilities of the glider suck.