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Dino model shows the glide path to flight

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Scientists using a wind tunnel and a full-scale model have shed light on how feathery dinosaurs adapted to the skies, a study said on Wednesday. Researchers at the University of Southampton created an anatomically correct model of a five-winged “paravian”, a type of dinosaur deemed to be a precursor of birds. They made a microraptor, the first known theropod, or two-footed dinosaur, to have feathers on its arms, legs and tail, providing it potentially with five surfaces with which to gain “lift” against the air. Experiments in a wind tunnel, supported by flight simulations, showed that using these rudimentary wings, the critter could still carry out slow glides from low heights. A leading hypothesis in the origin of birds is that, after learning to glide, feathered dinosaurs underwent evolutionary pressures that led to a more sophisticated wing, able to flap efficiently and adapt its shape to winds. — AFP

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