Early dinosaur flew like a biplane
January 23, 2007
Reanalysis of fossil remains suggests that the earliest flying dinosaurs used two sets of wings like a biplane.
Collage of images courtesy of Sankar Chatterjee. Reconstruction of flying dinosaur Microraptor gui (left); Holotype of flying dinosaur Microraptor gui, as preserved, inset: enlarged view of the leg feathers (top right); Sketch of flying dinosaur Microraptor gui, as preserved (bottom right).
The research, published by Sankar Chatterjee of Texas Tech University and R. Jack Templin in this week’s online issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, argues that Microraptor gui, one of the earliest known gliders dating to 125 million years ago, utilized four wings to glide between treetops.
“Like the Wright 1903 Flyer, Microraptor, a gliding relative of early birds, took to the air with two sets of wings,” the authors write. “Aircraft designers have mimicked many of nature’s flight ‘inventions,’ usually inadvertently. Leading edge slats delay
stalling, as does the alula of birds; birds’ feet act as airbrakes, and streamlining reduces drag. Now, it seems likely that Microraptor invented the biplane 125 million years before the Wright 1903 Flyer.”
This article uses a quote from “Biplane wing planform and flight performance of the feathered dinosaur Microraptor gui”.