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Researchers of microraptor shed light on ancient origin of bird flight

  • #1
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 10,073 marco_polo


    Flight tests on a model of the early Cretaceous gliding dinosaur Microraptor have lent convincing support for the "trees down" theory for the origin of flight, as researchers have made a very strong case for microraptor as a highly successful glider.
    http://www.physorg.com/news183653264.html

    The new flight model created by Martin and Burnham comes directly from a skeleton composed of casts of the original bones of a microraptor and the preserved impressions of feathers from specimens in Chinese museums. These astonishingly preserved fossils give a detailed image of the plumage in the gliding raptor and make possible the construction of an accurate model. The fossils also show that an essentially sprawling posture was a plausible hind-limb wing position to provide stable flight with gliding parameters better than those of modern "flying lemurs."

    The competing "biplane posture" advanced by other researchers suggested that an upright stance provided for successful glides. But the KU-China team argues that this stance required an impossibly heavy head to maintain a proper center of gravity. Furthermore, the presence of seven-inch-long flight feathers on the feet would prohibit any extended stay on the ground. Thus, microraptor must have been completely arboreal.


Comments



  • Found the hour long PBS episode mentioned in the article. NOVA: The Four Winged Dinosaur. Going to have a gander at this tommorrow myself (Video quality is great, reccommend watching in fullscreen)





  • Apologies for spamming, but I knew Kansas University rang a bell, the group of scientist that wrote this paper including Larry Martin and Alan Feduccia who maintain that modern birds did not evolve from therapod dinosaurs but rather earlier archosaurs from the Triassic. They have been on the wrong end of a number of key debates in this area before so perhaps all is not as nice and clearcut as it seems at first. Certainly makes wonder about this sentence a little: "But we've been able to articulate the bones in their hip socket to show that they could fly."

    In short expect a healthy counter response to this paper, including a rigorous anatomical analysis of their reconstruction.




  • How can those guys from Kansas University call themselves men of science? After being shown time and time again that Microraptor's leg bones do not fit into the socket at the angle they want they go ahead and make a reconstruction based on that interpretation. Clearly they want to believe that birds are not dinosaurs for some reason (most likely they don't want to lose their research grants for being wrong) and seem happy to ignore the growing mountain of evidence that says they are wrong. It's the very definition of bad science.




  • Galvasean wrote: »
    How can those guys from Kansas University call themselves men of science? After being shown time and time again that Microraptor's leg bones do not fit into the socket at the angle they want they go ahead and make a reconstruction based on that interpretation. Clearly they want to believe that birds are not dinosaurs for some reason (most likely they don't want to lose their research grants for being wrong) and seem happy to ignore the growing mountain of evidence that says they are wrong. It's the very definition of bad science.

    Seems to be the exact same wording on an number of website which leads me to wonder if it is just a copypasta press release from KU themselves. Also makes me wonder about the quality of reporting on a few of the major science sites. Fooled me at first though as well :o.

    Reading it again this statement is almost unbelievable in its arrogance.
    Indeed, the KU-China team's work provides such strong support for the trees-down model for the origin of avian flight that the alternative terrestrial (ground up) origin now may be abandoned.

    Well if the reconstruction is flat out implausible, then it doesn't matter how aerodynamic it is. :rolleyes:




  • marco_polo wrote: »
    Well if the reconstruction is flat out implausible, then it doesn't matter how aerodynamic it is. :rolleyes:

    Replace implausible with impossible and you're right. They might as well have strapped rocket boots onto the thing, so bad was their reconstruction.
    Funny how they are trying the, "Hey look guys we've debunked the ground up theory" line, but ommiting the bit, "Oh yeah, we're also the guys who think it's not a dinosaur at all!"
    There is no way their research supports the trees down theory.
    1. The trees down theory is in relation to dinosaurs. According to them it's not a dinosaur.
    2. Their reconstruction defiess the laws of physics and biology and is therefore defunct.

    Kansas heh? No wonder nobody believes in evolution there. :rolleyes:


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