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



On Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 05:41:25AM -0700, Jura wrote:
> 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 


If I understood the article correctly, they said that feathers would not
even be needed for the gliding ability of this dinosaur.

I have my doubts.  What would be the supporting hypothesis that
assymetric flight feathers have an origin other than for flight?