Tuesday, 26 January 2010

How did birds first start to fly?

When I was at university about a millenium ago, a question which has only just been resolved was being debated in the palaeontological world: how did birds first start to fly? Were they ground-dwellers, which used their wings to flap themselves faster and faster until they found they were off the ground, or did they live in trees and glide down from the heights?

Now some research has been published by US and Chinese workers supporting the latter theory, based on a reconstructed skeleton of Microraptor which had feathers on both the wings and the hind legs and, just for extra zing, on actual flight tests of a model. It does look like fun!

Oh yeah, and my own original prejudice is shown to be vindicated. I never could make sense of the running-along-the-ground-until-you-take-off argument!

1 comment:

Pondside said...

The debate isn't finished by any stretch - there's too much money already spent by both sides.
For the record, I'm on the side of the 'down from the trees' school of thought.