Dyke, Gareth J., Nudds, R.L. and Rayner, J.M.V.
Flight of Sharovipteryx: the world's first delta-winged glider
Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 19, (4), . (doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2006.01105.x).
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The 225 million-year-old reptile Sharovipteryx mirabilis was the world's first delta-winged glider; this remarkable animal had a flight surface composed entirely of a hind-limb membrane. We use standard delta-wing aerodynamics to reconstruct the flight of S. mirabilis demonstrating that wing shape could have been controlled simply by protraction of the femora at the knees, and by variation in incidence of a small forelimb canard. Our method has allowed us to address the question of how identifying realistic glide performance can be used to set limits on aerodynamic design in this small animal. Our novel interpretation of the bizarre flight mode of S. mirabilis is the first based directly on interpretation of the fossil itself and the first grounded in aerodynamics.
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