Yaser Saffar Talori, Jing-Shan Zhao, Yun-Fei Liu, Wen-Xiu Lu, Zhi-Heng Li & Jingmai Kathleen O'Connor (2019)Â
Identification of avian flapping motion from non-volant winged dinosaurs based on modal effective mass analysis.Â
PLoS Computational Biology 15(5): e1006846.
The origin of avian flight is one of the most controversial debates in Paleontology. This paper investigates the wing performance of Caudipteryx, the most basal non-volant dinosaur with pennaceous feathered forelimbs by using modal effective mass theory. From a mechanical standpoint, the forced vibrations excited by hindlimb locomotion stimulate the movement of wings, creating a flapping-like motion in response. This shows that the origin of the avian flight stroke should lie in a completely natural process of active locomotion on the ground. In this regard, flapping in the history of evolution of avian flight should have already occurred when the dinosaurs were equipped with pennaceous remiges and rectrices. The forced vibrations provided the initial training for flapping the feathered wings of theropods similar to Caudipteryx.
The origin of avian flight in the perspective of mechanics has been investigated for the first time. We reported the first evidence for flapping hypothesis based on principle of physical modeling. This is significant because using modal effective mass method and reconstructed Caudipteryx, the most basal non-volant winged dinosaur, we captured significant and negligible modes and realized that resonance oscillation of Caudipteryx wings could occur as the running speed approached to the primary frequencies. Such forced vibrations induced by legs' motions during running trained the Caudipteryx and the other feathered dinosaurs to flap their wings.