Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




EARLY EARTH
New evidence of dinosaurs' role in the evolution of bird flight
by Staff Writers
Bristol UK (SPX) Nov 22, 2012


The research looked at the dinosaur Anchiornis huxleyi and the Jurassic bird Archaeopteryx lithographica. The latter is 155 million years old and widely considered to be the earliest known bird, presenting a combination of dinosaur and bird characteristics.

A new study looking at the structure of feathers in bird-like dinosaurs has shed light on one of nature's most remarkable inventions - how flight might have evolved. Academics at the Universities of Bristol, Yale and Calgary have shown that prehistoric birds had a much more primitive version of the wings we see today, with rigid layers of feathers acting as simple airfoils for gliding.

Close examination of the earliest theropod dinosaurs suggests that feathers were initially developed for insulation, arranged in multiple layers to preserve heat, before their shape evolved for display and camouflage.

As evolution changed the configuration of the feathers, their important role in the aerodynamics and mechanics of flight became more apparent.

Natural selection over millions of years ultimately modified dinosaurs' forelimbs into highly-efficient, feathered wings that could rapidly change its span, shape and area - a key innovation that allowed dinosaurs to rule the skies.

This basic wing configuration has remained more or less the same for the past 130 million years, with bird wings having a layer of long, asymmetrical flight feathers with short covert feathers on top. They are able to separate and rotate these flight feathers to gain height, change direction and even hover.

This formation allows birds to move in such a way as to produce both lift and thrust simultaneously - a capability that man, with the help of technology, is still trying to successfully imitate.

The research, published in Current Biology, looked at the dinosaur Anchiornis huxleyi and the Jurassic bird Archaeopteryx lithographica. The latter is 155 million years old and widely considered to be the earliest known bird, presenting a combination of dinosaur and bird characteristics.

Their wings differed from modern day birds in being composed of multiple layers of long feathers, appearing to represent early experiments in the evolution of the wing.

Although individual feathers were relatively weak due to slender feather shafts, the layering of these wing feathers is likely to have produced a strong airfoil.

The inability to separate feathers suggests that taking off and flying at low speeds may have been limited, meaning that wings were primarily used in high-speed gliding or flapping flight.

Dr Jakob Vinther, from the University of Bristol's Schools of Biological and Earth Sciences, said: "We are starting to get an intricate picture of how feathers and birds evolved from within the dinosaurs. We now seem to see that feathers evolved initially for insulation. Later in evolution, more complex vaned or pinnate feathers evolved for display.

"These display feathers turned out to be excellent membranes that could have been utilised for aerial locomotion, which only very late in bird evolution became what we consider flapping flight. This new research is shedding light not just on how birds came to fly, but more specifically on how feathers came to be the way they are today - one of the most amazing and highly specialised structures in nature."

Dr Nicholas Longrich of Yale University added: "By studying fossils carefully, we are now able to start piecing together how the wing evolved. Before, it seemed that we had more or less modern wings from the Jurassic onwards. Now it's clear that early birds were more primitive and represented transitional forms linking birds to dinosaurs. We can see the wing slowly becoming more advanced as we move from Anchiornis, to Archaeopteryx, to later birds."

.


Related Links
University of Bristol
Explore The Early Earth at TerraDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





EARLY EARTH
New ancient shark species gives insight into origin of great white
Gainesville FL (SPX) Nov 20, 2012
The great white shark is one of the largest living predatory animals and a magnet for media sensationalism, yet its evolutionary history is as misunderstood as its role as a menace. Originally classified as a direct relative of megatooth sharks, the white shark's evolutionary history has been debated by paleontologists for the last 150 years. In a study appearing in print and online ... read more


EARLY EARTH
China's Chang'e-3 to land on moon next year

Moon crater yields impact clues

Study: Moon basin formed by giant impact

NASA's LADEE Spacecraft Gets Final Science Instrument Installed

EARLY EARTH
Curiosity Rover Preparing for Thanksgiving Activities

Curiosity Team May Reveal Major Discovery Soon

Life on Mars? Maybe not. NASA rows back on findings

Survey At 'Matijevic Hill' Wrapping Up

EARLY EARTH
UK Secures Billion Pound Package For Space Investment

Europe, U.S. talk space program link

At Helsinki's Slush, start-ups 'speed date' for financing

NASA Selects Information Technology Flight Operations Support Contract

EARLY EARTH
Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

EARLY EARTH
Three ISS crew return to Earth in Russian capsule

Station Crew Off Duty After Undocking

Space station command changes

Russia restores space contact after cable rupture

EARLY EARTH
Pleiades 1B is ready for integration in the payload "stack" for Arianespace's next Soyuz mission

France, Germany compromise on Ariane launcher: minister

Mexsat Bicentenario is delivered to French Guiana for its December launch on Ariane 5

France, Germany seek Ariane compromise at ESA space meet

EARLY EARTH
Rare image of Super-Jupiter sheds light on planet formation

Astronomers Directly Image Massive Star's 'Super-Jupiter'

NASA's Kepler Wraps Prime Mission, Begins Extension

Lowell astronomer, collaborators point the way for exoplanet search

EARLY EARTH
Thermogenerator from the Printer

University of Glasgow and Clyde Space set to put brakes on space junk problem

Study reveals clues to cause of hydrogen embrittlement in metals

Smartphones crushing point-and-shoot camera market




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement