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Secret of flight for world's largest bird


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#1    Owlscrying

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 11:42 PM

July 2
It cruised the skies above the Argentine pampas about six million years ago, a soaring behemoth of a bird, the size of a modern light aircraft, dragging about 140 pounds in ballast.

But with little in the way of muscle to flap its wings and propel itself through the air, just how did the largest bird to ever take wing stay aloft?

That question has puzzled paleontologists for decades, but in a study released Monday, US researchers suggest that the now extinct Argentavis magnificens was essentially an expert glider, hitching a lift on thermals and updrafts.

"Once it was airborne, there was no problem. It could travel 200 miles in a day," said Sankar Chatterjee, a distinguished professor of geology at the Museum of Texas Tech University.

Chatterjee and a team of researchers analysed the aerodynamics of the ancient bird of prey by plugging information about its flight parameters into flight simulation software.

The analysis showed that the prehistoric aviator, like most large soaring landbirds, was too large to sustain powered flight, but could soar efficiently, reaching speeds of up to 67 mph in the right conditions.

Like modern-day condors, the Argentavis would have relied on updrafts in the foothills of the Andes, or columns or pockets of rising air known as thermals over the grassy pampas where it hunted its prey, for lifting power.

In all likelihood, the bird would have circled upwards on a thermal and glided from thermal to thermal sometimes over long distances between its roost site and feeding areas.

Although it had a 21-foot wingspan, its 100 foot turning radius was short enough that it could keep circling within a thermal as it rose high to search the plains for its prey.

The hardest part would be taking off from the ground. It would have been impossible to take off from a standing start.

It probably used some of the techniques used by hang-glider pilots such as running on sloping ground to get thrust or energy, or running with a headwind behind it.
go

           

#2    fantazum

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 08:40 PM

Quote

July 2
It cruised the skies above the Argentine pampas about six million years ago, a soaring behemoth of a bird, the size of a modern light aircraft, dragging about 140 pounds in ballast.

But with little in the way of muscle to flap its wings and propel itself through the air, just how did the largest bird to ever take wing stay aloft?

That question has puzzled paleontologists for decades, but in a study released Monday, US researchers suggest that the now extinct Argentavis magnificens was essentially an expert glider, hitching a lift on thermals and updrafts.

"Once it was airborne, there was no problem. It could travel 200 miles in a day," said Sankar Chatterjee, a distinguished professor of geology at the Museum of Texas Tech University.

Chatterjee and a team of researchers analysed the aerodynamics of the ancient bird of prey by plugging information about its flight parameters into flight simulation software.

The analysis showed that the prehistoric aviator, like most large soaring landbirds, was too large to sustain powered flight, but could soar efficiently, reaching speeds of up to 67 mph in the right conditions.

Like modern-day condors, the Argentavis would have relied on updrafts in the foothills of the Andes, or columns or pockets of rising air known as thermals over the grassy pampas where it hunted its prey, for lifting power.

In all likelihood, the bird would have circled upwards on a thermal and glided from thermal to thermal sometimes over long distances between its roost site and feeding areas.

Although it had a 21-foot wingspan, its 100 foot turning radius was short enough that it could keep circling within a thermal as it rose high to search the plains for its prey.

The hardest part would be taking off from the ground. It would have been impossible to take off from a standing start.

It probably used some of the techniques used by hang-glider pilots such as running on sloping ground to get thrust or energy, or running with a headwind behind it.
go


so it had to wait for a windy day or find a mountain.... which it then had to ascend by finding a thermal. no wonder they became extinct



#3    eyesaurSy

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Posted 10 July 2007 - 08:46 PM

Well, that was an extremely imbecilic inference, fantazum.

I have to tell you this article made my day. It took scientists decades to figure out that an giant extinct vulture probably flew the same way that all other species of vultures do.


#4    fantazum

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 05:32 PM

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Well, that was an extremely imbecilic inference, fantazum.

I have to tell you this article made my day. It took scientists decades to figure out that an giant extinct vulture probably flew the same way that all other species of vultures do.


really? Im no Ornithologist so you have the opportunity to educate me here...show me any species of Vulture that cant take off from the ground.


#5    speshall mareens

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 08:32 PM

most likely that same way asn queztocotal, it used thermals and cliffs

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#6    eyesaurSy

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 02:00 AM

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really? Im no Ornithologist so you have the opportunity to educate me here...show me any species of Vulture that cant take off from the ground.

Sorry, I was being rude. I though you were serious in saying the reason they became extinct was because it took a lot of effort for them to take off. I guess it was sarcasm, right?


#7    speshall mareens

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 01:32 PM

well its extinction might of had to do with climate change, the ladn brigde between north adn south america introducing rival species, or it was a specialist that couldnt adapt

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