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Re: 11th specimen of Archaeopteryx
On Oct 27, 2011, at 3:42 AM, Tim Williams wrote:
> Yes, there are several lines of evidence that _Archaeopteryx_ was
> incapable of sustained, flapping flight. _Confuciusornis_ too; and
> probably _Sapeornis_ as well. If this is true (and I'm sure not
> everyone agrees!) all basal birds might have been gliders.
> Nevertheless, it is possible that these gliders might have used simple
> flapping motions in order to gain height or added forward momentum
> during the glide.
This is certainly not impossible, but it should be noted that any model
suggesting a "limited flapping" precursor needs to consider the potential for
appropriately manipulating vorticity on the wing (and, in this case, rapidly
increasing circulation and abruptly reducing it - otherwise, the animal loses
more than it gains). I have yet to see this even whispered in the literature
with regards to early birds, which is pretty concerning.
Assistant Professor of Biology
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