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Four wings good, two wings better?
October 17, 2013 2:55 PM   Subscribe

The Rise and Fall of Four-Winged Birds

Microraptor Wind Tunnel Test Provides Insight into the Evolution of Bird Flight
posted by brundlefly (21 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Guys...

Guys

Guys.

Guys listen.

I have the best ide

guys listen

I have the best idea ever

guys

I'll put WINGS

guys

wings

I'll put WINGS
guys listen here

I'll put WINGS... on my BACK legs.
posted by word_virus at 3:32 PM on October 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


Guys....
guys
Guys.
Guys listen.

posted by Sticherbeast at 3:33 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


curse you word_virus
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:33 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Four wings bad, two wings good."
posted by greenhornet at 3:38 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


My guess is that these served the same function that the tail eventually took over: rudder and elevator. I bet once the tail feathers got big enough, feathers on the legs began to be a disadvantage, and faded away.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:41 PM on October 17, 2013


Not to go on four wings; that is the law!
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:54 PM on October 17, 2013


Are we not birds?
posted by The Tensor at 4:16 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Q: Are we not birds?

A: We are Micro.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:17 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just when you thought there was no cuter dino/bird name than Microraptor....
posted by brundlefly at 4:20 PM on October 17, 2013


this may be a case of non-linear evolution.

All evolution is non-linear, if by linear you mean proceeding stepwise from a starting place to a goal. Evolution is a bunch of stuff that happened that made sense at the time.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:23 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


The paper on the Microraptor wind tunnel experiment is here if you have an extra 32 bucks to blow. :(
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 4:48 PM on October 17, 2013


somewhere in the kitchen research labs of buffalo wild wings, a genetic scientist is about to make a momentous discovery

four-winged chickens
posted by pyramid termite at 5:22 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


pyramid termite: "somewhere in the kitchen research labs of buffalo wild wings, a genetic scientist is about to make a momentous discovery

four-winged chickens
"

Call me when they get the four legged ones. Loves me them drumsticks.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:02 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every time you think you know something, you get proven wrong. Nice post!
posted by Samizdata at 7:15 PM on October 17, 2013


Call me when they get the four legged ones. Loves me them drumsticks.

Four legs means... FOUR THIGHS!!

Mmmmm, tender meaty thighs.

More meat than drumsticks.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:24 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fascinating post, thanks!
posted by metaBugs at 5:19 AM on October 18, 2013


I love the article on the development of feathers as told through amber linked on the NatGeo page.

What was the evolutionary advantage of the early stages of (proto-)feathers - was it just for insulation?
posted by Gordafarin at 6:14 AM on October 18, 2013


Evolution is a bunch of stuff that happened that made sense at the time.

The world is a crazy place, and not all of it makes sense. But I'm sure you knew that.
posted by Blue_Villain at 8:08 AM on October 18, 2013


somewhere in the kitchen research labs of buffalo wild wings, a genetic scientist is about to make a momentous discovery

four-winged chickens


Dan Halen has done it.
posted by lost_cause at 8:28 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


aircraft originally had four wings - it took a while for the monoplane to be demonstrated as better than the biplane, people thought they needed all that wingspan to stay up
posted by maiamaia at 3:59 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Important difference, though, malamaia: the airplane designers were trying out intelligent designs (if not perfectly informed); evolution just stumbles in the dark, and if the metabolically expensive adaptation (big feathers on back legs) persists, it certainly provided some advantage.

So: biplane = clever but wrong; four-winged critters = not wrong for whatever they were doing (flight, gliding, impressing dames who liked feathery legs, whatev).
posted by IAmBroom at 1:19 AM on October 19, 2013


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