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Microraptor was a competent glider (but nothing to write home about)



New article in Nature Communications regarding Microraptor's aerial abilities.


http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2013/130918/ncomms3489/full/ncomms3489.html#access

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., 
Ganapathisubramani, B.
 
Abstract
 
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 
lifting surfaces.

 
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.
 
Thanks,
 
Jason