A bipedal pterosaur video!
Just ran across this Tapejara skeleton take-off, fly and land video from the Huffington Post – and its a bipedal takeoff! The original came from the Sankar Chatterjee lab at Texas Tech in November 2012.
The Huffington headline reads: Pterosaur ‘Runways’ Enabled Huge Prehistoric Flying Animal To Get Airborne, Study Suggests. By: Douglas Main, LiveScience Contributor
Published: 11/08/2012 03:01 PM EST on LiveScience.
How did pterosaurs takeoff and fly?
According to Main, “A new computer simulation has the answer: These beasts used downward-sloping areas, at the edges of lakes and river valleys, as prehistoric runways to gather enough speed and power to take off, according to a study presented Wednesday (Nov. 7) here at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.’First the animal would start running on all fours,'” Texas Tech University scientist Sankar Chatterjee, a co-author of the study, told LiveScience. “Then it would shift to its back legs, unfurl its wings and begin flapping. Once it generated enough power and speed, it finally would hop and take to the air,” said Chatterjee, who along with his colleagues created a video simulation of this pterosaur taking flight.
Unfortunately Chatterjee doesn’t give pterosaurs the credit they deserver when he reports, “This would be very awkward-looking,” he said. “They’d have to run, but also need a downslope, a technique used today by hang gliders. Once in the air, though, they were magnificent gliders.”
So, a downslope was necessary and flapping was rare, evidently, in Chatterjee’s view. Unfortunately, Chatterjee, like the other pterosaur experts, has a built-in bias regarding pterosaurs in that he sees them too weak to run to take-off speed, except downhill, and too weak to flap sufficiently to create enough thrust without a runway, and too weak to flap with vigor while gaining altitude. The caption (Fig. 1) includes a few reconstruction suggestions.
Living bipedal lizards are anything but awkward-looking.
In fact they look incredibly like graceful bullets, faster than a rabbit and impossible to see on film unless greatly slowed down, as shown here in the Bruce Jayne lab films.
Pterosaurs have what bats and birds have
The ability to flap and fly vigorously. Huge pectoral and upper arm muscles, fur-covered body, independent wings and legs. Gosh, I feel like I’m looking out for the little guy (pterosaurs) here, having to defend them from pterosaur experts.
I realize everyone has their pet ideas and given those its important to trash the ideas of others. But this is Science and we can come to certain agreements. Nice to see Chatterjee showing that Tapejara could run bipedally! That’s a first step. Hopefully the round table at the Pterosaur Symposium in Rio in May will bring forth broad agreements on several issues without resorting to shoe throwing.
As always, I encourage readers to see specimens, make observations and come to your own conclusions. Test. Test. And test again.
Evidence and support in the form of nexus, pdf and jpeg files will be sent to all who request additional data.