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PLANET NEWS

Motion, Not Location Propelled Flight Evolution

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From the evidence of bird-like dinosaur fossils bearing feathers, we know that dinosaurs evolved into birds. Thus we know at some point these primitive birds must have taken flight, but until now, scientists have debated exactly how this happened. Some say proto-birds climbed trees first, learned to glide from branches, and then fly. Others said they simply flapped their wings and took off from the ground.

New examinations of modern bird flight suggests the "where" is not so important as the "how." Scientists closely measured the wing beats of a kind of quail-like bird called chukars. These birds take flight by stroking their wings at a precise angle. What's more, even hatchlings that can't fly with their short, undeveloped wings flap at this same angle.

The researchers conclude that flight mechanics—just how birds flap their wings and fly—was more important than whether they first learned to glide. Once the proper wing-stroke was learned, flight could have occurred from ground or tree.

Source: Nature

Illustration by Robert Petty

Related Links:
http://www.nature.com/nature

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2015 Morgantown Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show, September 13-14, 2014
2015 Morgantown Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show, September 13-14, 2014   
Dinosaur Coprolite (Dung) (Tumbled) (1 pound bulk)
Dinosaur Coprolite (Dung) (Tumbled) (1 pound bulk)   
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Tyrannosaurus rex, model with moving jaws, standing pose   
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Geologic History of West Virginia
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