Researchers Put Fake Wings on Running Dinosaur Robot and Ostrich to Reveal the Mystery of Flying

Researchers Put Fake Wings on Running Dinosaur Robot and Ostrich to Reveal the Mystery of Flying

Scientists found fossils of a dinosaur with wings in 1861. Since then, they have argued at what time birds started flying. Now, scientists have reconstructed a crucial step that enables feathered dinosaurs to fly. According to a new study, published on Thursday, in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, sheds light on flying ability of dinosaurs. It pinpoints that winged, two-legged dinosaurs may have acquired skills to flap their wings as a side effect of running. Scientists have used robotic and animal models to reveal the flying potential of some dinosaurs. The analysis offers a unique point of view on the origins of flying. But experts say more proof and study is required.

To make things clear, scientists developed a robotic dinosaur to verify their theory. They wanted to know whether those proto-birds waved their wings well before they ever flew up in the sky. Caudipteryx, a model created by Chinese scientists, was about the size of a peacock. It had the capability of running at 17 mph. The scientists looked at the model which weighed only around 11 pounds. Jing-Sha Zhao from Tsinghua University, Beijing lead the finding. They also used a juvenile ostrich to experimentally show that some feathered dinosaurs were already swinging their wings to enable their flying potential.

Zhao said their work reveals the motion of flapping feathered wings had developed inactively and naturally as the dinosaurs ran on the ground. They studied the most ancient non-flying dinosaur, who had feathered proto-wings. Scientists explored their idea further by making the robot run on a treadmill. As a result, they noticed the fluttering of the wings at different speeds as per their estimations. After that, they placed human-made wings on young ostrich and saw the wings flap as it ran around. Zhao noted although this flapping motion could not take the dinosaur into the air, it might have created the action of flapping before flying. Thus the new study offers new perspectives in the inception of avian flight.

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