Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Scientists discover 'world's first bird' !!!!1111!!

We *know* they existed, though we haven't come up with many fossils supporting the fact, so let's dig through all the old stuff we've found over the years and see if we can come up with something convincing.


The long-extinct species was first unearthed in the Britain by Archaeologists in the 1950s, but until now their aerodynamic capability had not been studied.

Their rudimentary 'wings' were always assumed to be some form of flying adaption, but scientists at the time lacked the necessary technology to test the theory.

But earlier this year, experts from Bristol University investigated both types of kuehneosaurs found in the UK - kuehneosuchus and kuehneosaurus - for the first time.

The team built lifesize models of the creatures and used techniques usually employed to test prototype aircraft - including a wind tunnel - to discover their amazing flying ability.

Their pioneering findings, published this week by the Paleontological Association, have turned the history of winged flight on its head.

Today German palaeobiologist Koen Stein, who led the study, said: 'We didn't think kuehneosaurs would have been very efficient in the air. But all the work up to now had been speculation.

'So we decided to build models and test them in the wind tunnel in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Bristol University.

'Surprisingly, we found that kuehneosuchus was aerodynamically very stable. Jumping from a tree, it could easily have crossed 9m (29ft) before landing on the ground.'

The species, which inhabited the warm late Triassic period from 235 to 200 million years ago, was first discovered in the UK inside an ancient cave system near Bristol.

Both types of kuehneosaurs lived 80 million years before the largest dinosaurs of the Jurassic period, and 50 million years before the earliest known bird, archaeopteryx, which lived in what is now southern Germany.

Mr Stein and his colleagues used a number of different materials to reconstruct the creatures' scaly wings, which they then tested using specialist aerodynamic equipment.

Aerospace engineers suspended the models in a wind tunnel and passed a jet of hot air over the models' bodies.

This gave experts a detailed idea about the air flow over their wings, and the distance they would have glided from tree-top to tree-top in search of food and to escape larger predators. But Mr Stein admitted the task wasn't always straightforward.

He added: 'We also built webbed hands and feet, and had an extra skin membrane between the legs on the models, but these made the flight of the animals unstable, suggesting they probably did not have such features.'

A quote from Gereth Nelson comes to mind (Wall Street Journal Dec. 9, 1986):

"We've got to have some ancestors. We'll pick those. Why? Because we know they have to be there, and these are the best candidates. That's by and large the way it has worked. I am not exaggerating."