Aerodynamic characteristics of a feathered dinosaur measured using physical models. Effects of form on static stability and control effectiveness

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Dennis EvangelistaMimi Kohl

Abstract

We report the effects of posture and morphology on the static aerodynamic stability and control effectiveness of physical models based on the feathered dinosaur, † Microraptor gui , from the Cretaceous of China. Postures had similar lift and drag coefficients and were broadly similar when simplified metrics of gliding were considered, but they exhibited different stability characteristics depending on the position of the legs and the presence of feathers on the legs and the tail. Both stability and the function of appendages in generating maneuvering forces and torques changed as the glide angle or angle of attack were changed. These are significant because they represent an aerial environment that may have shifted during the evolution of directed aerial descent and other aerial behaviors. Certain movements were particularly effective (symmetric movements of the wings and tail in pitch, asymmetric wing movements, some tail movements). Other appendages altered their function from creating yaws at high angle of attack to rolls at low angle of attack, or reversed their function entirely. While † M. gui lived after † Archaeopteryx and likely represents a side experiment with feathered morphology, the general patterns of stability a...Continue Reading

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