Monthly Archives: November 2012

Colugos: The Geometrically Efficient

Contrary to its name, the flying lemur, or the colugo does not fly, and is not a part of the lemur family as it is actually not part of the primate family. They instead glide, and have been historically considered as being close to the ancestors of bats. They have however, recently been considered by […]

Evolution of flight : Flying from Gliding

  While many animals are able to fly, birds are the creatures that have mastered flight. They evolved feathers and an aerodynamic body shape. But how exactly did they evolve the ability for complex flight? Were birds first capable of gliding then modified this advantage into powered flight? Or did they begin flapping their wings […]

It’s a Bird; It’s a Plane; It’s a…Cucumber? An Examination of the Stabilizing Characteristics of Alsomitra Macrocarpa

Many are familiar with the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit’s iconic ‘flying wing’ shape. This was the first aircraft to successfully employ the flying wing design. Northrop Grumman chose the flying wing design primarily for its stealth. The flying wing is also very aerodynamically efficient, as the surface of the entire craft is used to produce […]

Gliding- Parlor Trick, or Vanishing Act?

Being incapable of natural flight, humans have always had their imaginations teased by the animals that take to the skies. Of all the flight methods, gliding is one that upon first-sight seems to defy logic; after all, how can something that has obvious weight just stay in flight without thrust and no immediate source of […]

Quetzalcoatlus: largest flying animal…or not?

Quetzalcoatlus was a type of pterosaur and is one of the largest flying animal of all time, or was it? A study by Sankar Chatterjee, a Texas Tech University professor, claims that the Quetzalcoatlus would not have been able to fly. Instead the pterosaur would soar and glide in a similar fashion as the albatross. Take-off […]

Mammals: Falling With Style

Sure, we’ve all seen Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear’s continued attempts at flight. We all know that the wings on his back will never allow him to achieve flight in the functional sense. He has no ability to flap or twist his wings to produce lift or thrust, nor does he have engines like an […]

On the Day that Pigs Can Fly

While the day has yet to come where pigs are able to fly, many unique animals have evolved over time to allow for flying and gliding capabilites.  Some of these strange creatures include the flying fish, flying squirrel, and gliding lizard.  These animals are not quite capable of flight on their own, but have adapted […]

Partridge in a Pear Tree: But How did it Get There?

  How is a half wing useful? This problem has divided the scientific community on the evolution of flight since the time of Darwin because it questions the evolutionary benefit of limbs that are incapable of flight. Bird ancestors clearly did not grow fully functional wings overnight and it is still unclear exactly how wings […]

Gust soaring as a basis for the flight of petrels and albatrosses (Procellariiformes)

It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Superman! Flying without the use of energy has always been seen a superpower that people have dreamed of. Such an ability has already been achieved by such birds as the Albatross and Petrel. By using the gust soaring, the Albatross can fly hundreds of miles without so much […]

Flying “Missiles”

The Cape Gannet seems like a normal bird, but like the peregrine falcon, this bird is able to change its body shape in order to hunt its prey. As the Cape Gannet takes a nose dive towards the water, this bird folds its wings behind its body so that it is able to be more […]