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January 23, 2007

Dinosaur May Have Had Biplane Wings

Fokker mother?

When the Wright brothers first took to the sky in a biplane, they were using a design nature may have tried 125 million years earlier.

A new study of one of the earliest feathered dinosaurs suggests it may have had upper and lower sets of wings, much like the biplanes of early aviation.

It's not clear if the design was a step on the way to modern birds or a dead end, tested by nature and discarded.

...

Microraptor was described by Xing Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2003 as having aerodynamic feathers on both its arms and legs. Xing suggested at the time that it glided, extending its legs backward so its wings were arranged one behind the other, like a dragonfly.

But that would be aerodynamically inefficient for a feathered creature, Chatterjee concluded, noting that the feathers on the legs would not face forward.

Instead, he suggested, the legs of the 2-pound creature could have been held below the body in flight, creating two staggered wing sections, the upper one slightly ahead of the lower one.

In the future, by the way, all sports teams will have black uniforms, and all dinosaurs, even the most innocuous herbivores, will have "raptor" somewhere in their name.

Marketing, baby. Mindshare.


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