ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2009) — Ken Dial at The University of Montana has unveiled a major new theory for the evolution of flight that is changing textbooks around the world...
Now Dial and his crew have discovered in the laboratory that half a wing indeed can be useful. He has entered the evolution-of-flight fray [arborealist/orni and cursorialists/paleo] by offering a third rival idea – the ontogenetic transitional wing hypothesis, or OTWH. (Ontogenetic means the development of something.) This theory suggests that birds evolved incrementally by using their half-developed wings to run up steep surfaces (WAIR) and gained a survival advantage. Then they flapped their proto-wings to return to the ground safely. And, by the way, it’s no great leap to cross between these behaviors because they are linked by a fundamental, constant wing angle.
“We think our theory is a convergence of thought that’s a more complex marriage of the arboreal or cursorial camps,” Dial said. “We have taken the beautiful sage elements from each one, and I feel we integrated them perfectly to say you never needed to go strictly from the ground up or tree down.”
30 January 2013 Last updated at 20:11 ET Homing pigeon 'Bermuda Triangle' explained
Dr Hagstrum has now come up with an explanation.
He said: "The way birds navigate is that they use a compass and they use a map. The compass is usually the position of the Sun or the Earth's magnetic field, but the map has been unknown for decades.
"I have found they are using sound as their map... and this will tell them where they are relative to their home."
The pigeons, he said, use "infrasound", which is an extremely low-frequency sound that is below the range of human hearing.
He explained: "The sound originates in the ocean. Waves in the deep ocean are interfering and they create sound in both the atmosphere and the Earth. You can pick this energy up anywhere on Earth, in the centre of a continent even." www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21262170
In this past week, as the annual Christmas Bird Count began, what’s called the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium – 200 scientists, 80 institutions, 20 countries – began releasing its first results on nothing less than the origins of birds. This consortium has worked for the past four years on the whole genome sequencing of 48 bird species. Their results – which are expected to change the way we think about bird diversity – are being reported nearly simultaneously in 23 journal papers. Eight papers can be found in a December 12, 2014 special issue of the journal Science. Another 15 papers appear in the journals Genome Biology, GigaScience and other journals.
Read more about the ‘Big Bang’ of bird evolution from the National Science Foundation
More results from the new work by the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium:
Sure, songbirds and other birds sprang from dinosaurs, too. But new work indicates that chickens and turkeys are genetically closest to their dino ancestors. Read more: Chickens and turkeys closer to dinos than other birds
Humans and vocal birds like parrots use essentially the same genes to speak. Read more: Genes link birdsong and human speech
A new study looks at how birds localize sounds. It seems that their slightly oval-shaped heads transform sound waves in a similar way to external ears. Read more: How birds get by without external ears
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