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Miroraptor was a competent glider (but nothing to write home about)
New article in Nature Communications regarding Microraptor's aerial abilities.
Aerodynamic performance of the feathered dinosaur Microraptor and the evolution
of feathered flight
Dyke, G., de Kat, R., Palmer, C., Van der Kindere, J., Naish, D.,
Understanding the aerodynamic performance of feathered, non-avialan
dinosaurs is critical to reconstructing the evolution of bird flight.
Here we show that the Early Cretaceous five-winged paravian Microraptor is most
stable when gliding at high-lift coefficients (low lift/drag
ratios). Wind tunnel experiments and flight simulations show that
sustaining a high-lift coefficient at the expense of high drag would
have been the most efficient strategy for Microraptor when
gliding from, and between, low elevations. Analyses also demonstrate
that anatomically plausible changes in wing configuration and leg
position would have made little difference to aerodynamic performance.
Significant to the evolution of flight, we show that Microraptor did not
require a sophisticated, ‘modern’ wing morphology to undertake
effective glides. This is congruent with the fossil record and also with the
hypothesis that symmetric ‘flight’ feathers first evolved in
dinosaurs for non-aerodynamic functions, later being adapted to form
As with all Nature Communications articles, I can't get it. So if anyone else
has access and can pass it along I would much appreciate it.