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Re: Microraptor flight, sauropod Hox genes and more: SVP press releases

Ben Creisler <bcreisler@gmail.com> wrote:

> Microraptor hind wing function
> http://vertpaleo.org/The-Society/SVP---Paleo-News/Society-News-and-Events/Mysterious-Feathered-Dinosaur-was-Agile-Flyer.aspx

More on this here:


Balter, M. (2012) Flying Dinos and Baby Birds Offer New Clues About
How Avians Took Wing. Science 2 November 2012: Vol. 338 no. 6107 pp.
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6107.591

Some key paragraphs:

"In a pair of companion papers presented at the Raleigh meeting, a
team led by biologists Michael Habib of the University of Southern
California in Los Angeles and Justin Hall of USC and the Natural
History Museum of Los Angeles County described new studies using
three-dimensional models and computer simulations to figure out how
_Microraptor_ might have flown. After modeling how much lift and
maneuverability _Microraptor_ would have achieved with its limbs in
various positions, the researchers found that it would have been a
much better flyer if it kept its forelimbs spread but its hind limbs
tucked under its body, where they could be used as rudders to keep the
animal under control as it banked and turned. By using the hind limbs
in this way, the team concluded, _Microraptor_ would have been able to
turn twice as fast as a two-winged animal.

"The team also found that _Microraptor_'s long tail—which is
relatively longer than that of _Velociraptor_ and many other
dromaeosaurids - would have been a key part of this control and
stabilization apparatus, helping to adjust the animal's pitch as it
maneuvered among closely spaced trees. These adaptations, Hall tells
Science, “let you get this dinosaur body into the air with very little
[anatomical] overhaul” of its basic body plan."