The Times (UK) declares: proof for ‘winged dinosaurs’ vaulting

According to The Times.co.uk,
“Isle of Wight find proves winged dinosaurs took off by ‘vaulting’ into the air. Following the discovery of a fossilised giant pterosaur, scientists may have resolved how the 650lb beasts took flight. The sheer size of such creatures has long baffled scientists because they seem too heavy to take off. Now research with a computerised 3D model suggests they used their massive leg and wing muscles to catapult themselves into the air.”

Figure 1. Image from The Sunday Times (UK) showing the Isle of Wight and an ornithocheird filled with helium on a smaller planet taking off by vaulting.

Figure 1. Image from The Sunday Times (UK) showing the Isle of Wight and an ornithocheird filled with helium on a smaller planet taking off by vaulting. See figure 2 for the 650 lb Hatzegopteryx. The human silhouette (gray at left) is way too small for this ornithocheirid, so they got their pterosaurs mixed-up.

“Robert Coram, a professional fossil hunter who made the find, said: “It might have been the largest flying creature that had ever lived up to that time.”

“Mr Habib explained: “Mathematical modelling indicates that launching from a quadrupedal stance — pushing off first with the hind limbs and then with the forelimbs — would have provided the leaping power giant pterosaurs required for takeoff.”

FIgure 2. From The Sunday Times (UK) showing a human to scale with a restoration of Hatzegopteryx.

FIgure 2. From The Sunday Times (UK) showing a human to scale with a restoration of Hatzegopteryx.

This article appears to follow a Witton 2019 SVPCA abstract
(coincidence?) discussing the flight capabilities of the giant azhdarchid, Hatzegopteryx, using Graphic Double Integration and Principal Component Analysis. AND this article coincides with a Scientific American cover story on pterosaurs by Dr. Habib, discussed earlier here.

The pterosaur experts talking to The Times are still not discussing
the much smaller phylogenetic ancestors of azhdarchids with longer wings, nor do they consider the reduced to vestigial distal phalanges that essential clip the wings of azhdarchids over 1.8 m (6 ft) tall, nor do they recognize the traits that attend small flightless pterosaurs.

Let’s stop promoting giant volant pterosaurs
until these objections are met and resolved. Perhaps a little backtracking and apologizing for earlier grand standing is in order here.

Figure 1. Estimating giant azhdarchid weight from estimated height and comparables with similar smaller taxa.

Figure 3. Estimating giant azhdarchid weight from estimated height and comparables with similar smaller taxa.

Let’s define giant pterosaurs
as those at least 2m or 7ft tall at the eyeball (sans crest if present). The rest are large (more or less human-sized) pterosaurs (comparable to Pelagornis, Fig. 4) or smaller pterosaurs comparable to some other extant bird (e.g. goose-, robin- or hummingbird-sized).

Figure 1. Click to enlarge. The largest flying and non-flying birds and pterosaurs to scale.

Figure 4. Click to enlarge. The largest flying and non-flying birds and pterosaurs to scale.

You might remember
an earlier post featuring a classified ad from U of Leicester, (UK) seeking a student to prove the vaulting pterosaur hypothesis by finding appropriate pterosaur tracks. The Isle of Wight includes several strata with dinosaur tracks. Perhaps someday they will deliver giant pterosaur tracks that suddenly end. Then we can argue if the pterosaur flew from that point on and how it did so.


References
Witton M 2019. You’re going to need a bigger plane: body mass and flight capabilities of the giant pterosaur. SVPCA abstracts.
Counter arguments based on facts appear here:

3 thoughts on “The Times (UK) declares: proof for ‘winged dinosaurs’ vaulting

  1. First, we are NOT talking about a helium filled pterosaur. First fail point there. We are not talking about another planet. Second fail point there. The illustration seems to follow Julia Molnar’s failed video trajectory to a “T”, with no assignation of provenance? Whopping big honesty fail there.

    I will not go over everything I see wrong with the Times UK claims here. I do not want to write a novel sized tome here and now., but I will cover a few points: If that poor pterosaur had helium replace its oxygen, it would die. Helium, does not support life. It IS one of the most INERT substances known. Suppose said helium was in a sac? Like a balloon? That might work…but why would it need muscular wings if so?

    Such a mechanism is called a balloon. If you have not seen them, look them up, they are cool. Oh, yes; balloons need no wings to fly.

    AHEM! I HAVE MENTIONED TIME AND TIME AND TIME AND TIME AGAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF POSITIONING OF POWERED ANATOMICAL ELEMENTS to allow takeoff from the ground. A Myotis myotis bat, scarcely as big as a dragonfly can take off from the ground by nearly killing itself with a massive pushup and simultaneous thrust of its legs. Videos are available on Youtube, avail yourselves of them and watch.

    The pterosaur in the article is not doing a pushup, it’s doing a row motion. Not UP, but FORWARD. Pushing with the legs from that particular starting position also pushes FORWARD. Unless the poor pony weight pterosaur is riding a wheelchair with extensible hidden wings, that creature is not getting airborne from those moves, even if its muscles and ones can deliver millions of newtons–unless it is taking off in pieces.

    Can ANY pterosaur get into a pushup position in the first place? I call upon the degreed experts to show me.

    David here has many valid objections to the quad launch hypothesis as it has been touted so far. It is well worth reading his thoughts on this subject.

    The authors have claimed birds have used something like ninety percent leg power to start flying, if memory serves me correctly. I can’t think of any modern flying vertebrate of which that is true. A grasshopper might do that feat, but even that I doubt.

    By the way, any claim that, since I am not a lettered expert in their field, so that disqualifies me, will be taken, by me, as an admission of failure on their part…unless they can show me the anatomical proofs I am asking for. I have been waiting YEARS for that proof.

    • Thank you, Bryan. Ummm, the helium comment was my sarcasm based on the appearance of the pterosaurs in various stages of take-off, not part of any described ancient atmosphere. Apologies for not making that more apparent.

      • Leave my remark as is. Their reasoning is an even worse scenario than your joke would lead one to believe…and I do point out what would be needed for most any pterosaur to take off from the ground using their hypothesis.

        I am damned tired of their bullying and my challenges still stand. IF these giants were as fast and powerful as we are told–their bones would have had to be made out of a sophisticated graphene or adamantium design and their muscular strength could have slapped the Hulk off a piss pot and be glad for it.

        It is VERY telling to me that the authors have yet to enter into a serious discussion with me on the subject. And they KNOW where to write to me.

        It is not as if I’ve been hiding for the last six or seven years on this subject.

        If they try to force you to shut me up again, I’ll make a graphics war out of it. Nobody sane would want to take me on in that arena.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: