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Re: Flightless pterosaur question:

Worth noting here that while some flightless birds are anecdotally mentioned to lack hyper-reduced wings, based on observation and/or measurement of length, the bone strength of secondarily flightless taxa appears to be universally low, even in species that have partial wing function remaining and/or represent a very recent loss of flight from a temporal perspective.

And, as Mark said, he and I have just finished writing and submitting a manuscript that addresses this very issue (among others). We'll see how it goes.



Michael Habib
Assistant Professor of Biology
Chatham University
Woodland Road, Pittsburgh PA  15232
Buhl Hall, Room 226A
(443) 280-0181

On Mar 24, 2010, at 1:26 PM, Saint Abyssal wrote:

--- On Wed, 3/24/10, Saint Abyssal <saint_abyssal@yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Saint Abyssal <saint_abyssal@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Flightless pterosaur question:
To: "David Peters" <davidpeters@att.net>
Date: Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 5:25 PM
Yes, atrophied pectoral musculature
is hypothetically possible as a means to lose flight
capability in flightless pterosaurs (assuming they exist)
but considering how many examples of birds with reduced
wings exist (penguins, dodos, ostriches, emus, cassowaries,
etc.)compared to adequate-but-under-powered ones (your
kagus) I think that flightlessness-by-muscle-loss is
probably less likely in pterosaurs, too.

We'll just have to wait for the fossils to find out! :D


--- On Wed, 3/24/10, David Peters <davidpeters@att.net>

From: David Peters <davidpeters@att.net>
Subject: Re: Flightless pterosaur question:
To: "Saint Abyssal" <saint_abyssal@yahoo.com>
Cc: "dinosaur mailing list" <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Date: Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 5:05 PM
Of course, but that's the easy
answer. Some flightless birds do not have absurdly

What's the threshold for flight/flightlessness?

Could it be found in the pectoral girdle, rather than

Witness the Kagu:


"The wings are not reduced in size like some other
flightless birds, but they lack the musculature for


--- On Wed, 3/24/10, Saint Abyssal <saint_abyssal@yahoo.com>

Absurdly short or gracile flight

If flightless birds keep their wings,
how will we know (or what threshold will
tells us a pterosaur just can't fly?

Any predictions?

David Peters