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Pterosaur wing shape

From: Ben Creisler

A new advance online paper:

Colin Palmer and Gareth Dyke (2011) 
Constraints on the wing morphology of pterosaurs.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B (advance online publication)
doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1529 

Animals that fly must be able to do so over a huge range of aerodynamic
conditions, determined by weather, wind speed and the nature of their
environment. No single parameter can be used to determine--let alone
measure--optimum flight performance as it relates to wing shape.
Reconstructing the wings of the extinct pterosaurs has therefore proved
especially problematic: these Mesozoic flying reptiles had a soft-tissue
membranous flight surface that is rarely preserved in the fossil record.
Here, we review basic mechanical and aerodynamic constraints that
influenced the wing shape of pterosaurs, and, building on this, present a
series of theoretical modelling results. These results allow us to predict
the most likely wing shapes that could have been employed by these ancient
reptiles, and further show that a combination of anterior sweep and a
reflexed proximal wing section provides an aerodynamically balanced and
efficient theoretical pterosaur wing shape, with clear benefits for their
flight stability. 

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