Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two Extinct Flying Reptiles Compared: One Was A Glider, The Other A Parachutist

Date:
July 15, 2008
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
A new study of extinct flying reptiles called kuehneosaurs, has shown that of the of the two genera found in Britain, Kuehneosuchus was a glider while Kuehneosaurus, with much shorter "wings," was a parachutist.

The model of Kuehneosuchus used in the experiments. Surprisingly, it was aerodynamically very stable.
Credit: Georg Olechinski

Archaeopteryx is famous as the world's oldest bird, but reptiles were flying about some 50 million years earlier than that (225 million years ago), even before large dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

Related Articles


A new study of extinct reptiles called kuehneosaurs, by scientists from the University of Bristol, England, shows that these early flyers used extraordinary extensions of their ribs to form large gliding surfaces on the side of the body.

Kuehneosaurs, up to 70 centimetres (two feet) long, were first found in the 1950s in an ancient cave system near Bristol. Their lateral 'wings' were always assumed to be some form of flying adaptation, but their aerodynamic capability had never been studied before.

Koen Stein, who did the work while a student studying for an MSc in palaeobiology at Bristol University, has shown that of the of the two genera found in Britain, Kuehneosuchus was a glider (it has elongate 'wings'), while Kuehneosaurus, with much shorter 'wings', was a parachutist. As the two forms are so alike in other respects, it is possible that they are males and females of the same animal.

Stein said: "We didn't think kuehneosaurs would have been very efficient in the air, but all the work up to now had been speculation, so we decided to build models and test them in the wind tunnel in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Bristol.

"Surprisingly, we found that Kuehneosuchus was aerodynamically very stable. Jumping from a five-metre tree, it could easily have crossed nine metres distance before landing on the ground. The other form, Kuehneosaurus, was more of a parachutist than a glider."

So that Stein and his colleagues could work out how these creatures controlled their flight they had to model different skin flaps over the wing area."We also built webbed hands and feet and had an extra skin membrane between the legs on the models, but these made the flight of the animals unstable, suggesting that they probably did not have such features."

"This is a fantastic example of interdisciplinary research," said Professor Michael Benton, a member of the research team and Head of Department in Bristol. "Palaeontologists are keen to understand how all the amazing animals of the past operated and by collaborating with aerospace engineers we can be sure that model-making and calculations are more realistic." END


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Koen Stein, Colin Palmer, Pamela G. Gill and Michael J. Benton. The aerodynamics of the British Late Triassic Kuehneosauridae. Palaeontology, July 15, 2008

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Two Extinct Flying Reptiles Compared: One Was A Glider, The Other A Parachutist." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714192550.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2008, July 15). Two Extinct Flying Reptiles Compared: One Was A Glider, The Other A Parachutist. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714192550.htm
University of Bristol. "Two Extinct Flying Reptiles Compared: One Was A Glider, The Other A Parachutist." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714192550.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gerbils, Not Rats, Might Be To Blame For The Black Death

Gerbils, Not Rats, Might Be To Blame For The Black Death

Newsy (Feb. 24, 2015) The "black death" that killed tens of millions of people has been blamed on rats for years, but now researchers say they may have gotten a bad rap. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Timbuktu Manuscripts Face an Uncertain Future

Timbuktu Manuscripts Face an Uncertain Future

AFP (Feb. 23, 2015) Two years ago a large number of manuscripts were taken from Timbuktu for safe keeping. Now the question is whether to return them. Duration: 02:50 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Did A Mummy End Up In A 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue?

How Did A Mummy End Up In A 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue?

Newsy (Feb. 23, 2015) A CT scan has revealed a mummified Chinese monk inside a Buddha statue. The remains date back about 1,000 years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare First Folio Arrives at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Rare First Folio Arrives at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Feb. 23, 2015) A rare First Folio discovered in a French library arrives at the Shakespeare&apos;s Globe Theatre in London, where the Bard&apos;s plays were first performed. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins