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Paraves aerial maneuvering and origin of flight

Ben Creisler

A new preprint paper in open-access PeerJ:

Dennis Evangelista, Sharlene Cam, Tony Huynh, Austin Kwong, Homayun
Mehrabani, Kyle Tse & Robert Dudley (2014)
Shifts in stability and control effectiveness during evolution of
Paraves support aerial maneuvering hypotheses for flight origin.
PeerJ PrePrints 2:e435v1
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.435v1

The capacity for aerial maneuvering was likely a major influence on
the evolution of flying animals. Here we evaluate consequences of
paravian morphology for aerial performance by quantifying static
stability and control effectiveness of physical models for numerous
taxa sampled from within the lineage leading to birds (Paraves).
Results of aerodynamic testing are mapped phylogenetically to examine
how maneuvering characteristics correlate with tail shortening, fore-
and hind-wing elaboration, and other morphological features. In the
evolution of Paraves we observe shifts from static stability to
inherently unstable aerial platforms; control effectiveness also
migrated from tails to the forewings. These shifts suggest that some
degree of aerodynamic control and and capacity for maneuvering
preceded the evolution of strong power stroke. The timing of shifts
also suggests features normally considered in light of development of
a power stroke may play important roles in control.