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Why Is This Ostrich Wearing an Extra Set of Wings?

By The New York Times

May 8, 2019

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Researchers used robotic technology and young ostriches wearing artificial wings to gain insight into how a dinosaur's running gait may have caused its wings to flap in what may have been an evolutionary precursor to flight.

The researchers performed three experiments focused on Caudipteryx, which walked on two legs and had a pair of feathery "proto-wings."

First, the team used fossil analyses to develop a simplified mathematical model of the dinosaur. They then simulated a running motion in the model's legs, and calculated how other parts of the body would respond.

For the second test, the team created a robo-Caudipteryx and ran it on a treadmill; they observed consistent oscillation even as they increased and decreased wing length.

Finally, the team built a harness with force sensors and a set of wings, and applied it to many different types of birds, before settling on a six-month-old ostrich. As the ostrich ran, flapping was evident, and sensors measured a small amount of lift.

From The New York Times
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