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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.
> Aerodynamic performance of the feathered dinosaur Microraptor and the
> of feathered flight
> Dyke, G., de Kat, R., Palmer, C., Van der Kindere, J., Naish, D.,
> Ganapathisubramani, B.
> 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
> 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
> 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?