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Origin of flight from aerial maneuvering in Paraves (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open-access in 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 origins.
PeerJ 2:e632

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 correspond to tail shortening,
forewing elaboration, and other morphological features. In the
evolution of Paraves we observe shifts from static stability to
inherently unstable aerial planforms; control effectiveness also
migrated from tails to the forewings. These shifts suggest that a some
degree of aerodynamic control and capacity for maneuvering preceded
the evolution of a 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.