The wing of Archaeopteryx as a primary thrust generator

  title={The wing of Archaeopteryx as a primary thrust generator},
  author={Phillip Burgers and Luis Mar{\'i}a Chiappe},
Since the late 1800s, the debate on the origin of flight in birds has centred around two antagonistic theories: the arboreal (take-off from trees) and cursorial (take-off from running) models. Despite broad acceptance of the idea that birds evolved from bipedal and predominantly terrestrial maniraptoriform dinosaurs,, the cursorial model of flight origins has been less successful than the arboreal model. Three issues have contributed to this lack of success: the gap between the estimated… 

The flight of Archaeopteryx

A flight simulation model is described, which suggests that for Archaeopteryx, takeoff from a perch would have been more efficient and cost-effective than from the ground.

On the Evolution of Feathers from an Aerodynamic and Constructional View Point1

Whether avian ancestry lies among coelurosaur theropods or earlier archosaurs, the authors must remain mindful of the complex aerodynamic dictates of gliding and powered flight and avoid formalistic approaches that coopt sister taxa, with their known body form, as functional ancestors.

Origin of feathered flight

A new approach is developed, combining terrestrial and arboreal hypotheses of the origin of flight, which indicates that for the development of true flapping avian flight, a key role was played by the initial universal anisodactylous foot of birds.

On the Evolution of Feathers from an Aerodynamic and Constructional View Point

If the hypothesis proposing a coelurosaurian ancestry of birds is to remain viable, it must be via an as yet undiscovered taxon that is compatible with the morphological and aerodynamic constraints imposed by flight evolution.

Palaeoecology, Aerodynamics, and the Origin of Avian Flight

Six evolutionary stages of avian flight represented by phylogeny and transitional fossils—arboreal leaping, parachuting, biplane gliding, monoplane glider, undulating flight, and manoeuvring flapping flight are identified.


The limbs of Archaeopteryx and (non-avian) theropods reveal substantial functional differences, which make their similarities even more likely to be synapomorphic.

Study on the pelvic system of birds and on the origin of flight

This review work attempts to demonstrate how the study of the pelvic system of modern birds is essential to provide new evidence on the origin of flight.

From baby birds to feathered dinosaurs: incipient wings and the evolution of flight

These findings provide a quantitative, biologically relevant bracket for theropod performance and suggest that protowings could have provided useful aerodynamic function early in maniraptoran history, with improvements in aerodynamic performance attending the evolution of larger wings, more effective feathers, and faster angular velocities.

Aerodynamic modelling of a Cretaceous bird reveals thermal soaring capabilities during early avian evolution

It is indicated that as early as 125 Ma, some birds evolved the morphological and aerodynamic requirements for soaring on continental thermals, a conclusion that highlights the degree of ecological, functional and behavioural diversity that resulted from the first major evolutionary radiation of birds.

The aerodynamics of gliding flight and its application to the arboreal flight of the Chinese feathered dinosaur Microraptor

Basic aerodynamic principles are used to define the minimum requirements for flight in terms of the necessary flight surfaces and flight stability and show that complex aerodynamic surfaces offer no clear advantages for gliding flight in an arboreal environment.



The Physics of Leaping Animals and the Evolution of Preflight

It is proposed that a running and jumping bipedal animal that used its forelimbs for balance could be the precursor of animals with powered flight, and that gliding animals do not fit a plausible model to explain the evolutionary pathway leading to powered flight.

The origin and early evolution of birds

There is no evidence for a major or mass extinction of birds at the end of the Cretaceous, nor for a sudden ‘bottleneck’ in diversity that fostered the early Tertiary origination of living bird ‘Orders’.

The origin and evolution of birds

Ornithologist and evolutionary biologist Alan Feduccia, author of "Age of Birds," here draws on fossil evidence and studies of the structure and biochemistry of living birds to present knowledge and data on avian evolution and propose a model of this evolutionary process.

New evidence concerning avian origins from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia

A theropod dinosaur from Patagonia is described, Unenlagia comahuensis gen. et sp.

The contractile properties of the M. supracoracoideus In the pigeon and starling: a case for long-axis rotation of the humerus

It is proposed that, at the downstroke-upstroke transition, variable levels of co-contraction of the M. pectoralis and SC interact to provide a level of kinematic control at the shoulder that would not be possible were the two antagonists to work independently.

Biomechanics in Evolution

Biomechanics and evolution - integrating physical and historical biology in the study of complex systems, George V. Lauder the mechanical design of fossil plants, Julian F.V. Vincent and George

Flying Ability of Archaeopteryx

My estimates of the probable flying speed and also the wing loading for Archaeopteryx of approximately7 m/s and 0.4 g/cm2 respectively, depend, like the estimates of torsion derived by Heptonstall, on the estimation of the weight and wing area of Archaeoperyx.


  • J. Ruben
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1991
Current scenarios frequently interpret the Late Jurassic bird Archaeopteryx as having had an avian‐type physiology and as having been capable of flapping flight, but only from “the trees downward.”


  • J. Speakman
  • Psychology, Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1993
Sexual selection for sensory exploitation in the frog Physalaemus pustulous and the differential response in animals to stimuli varying within a single dimension is studied.

Two feathered dinosaurs from northeastern China

Two theropods from the Upper Jurassic/Lower Cretaceous Chaomidianzi Formation of Liaoning province, China are described, which represent stages in the evolution of birds from feathered, ground-living, bipedal dinosaurs.