Posted by: Dan | March 4, 2009

Wing-Assisted Incline Running

I hope no one following this blog missed this little tidbit in this week’s Birds in the News:

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. It involves wing-assisted incline running and a fundamental bird wing angle. Using high-speed cameras, Dial and two graduate students documented how birds change the angle of their wings as they gain altitude, glide, descend or run up steep surfaces. “I never lost my little-kid attitude of ‘Daddy, how does the world work? What’s under this rock? How did this thing come to be?'” Dial said. “I became greatly interested in vertebrate design and evolution — how things with backbones are put together. Everything from a fish to a bat to a whale is related, and how could that be? How could they move and have similar muscles and bones and some be the size of an eraser and some the size of a building? That is a terribly exciting thing to think about.”

It’s neat stuff. Also check out the Science article from 2003 by Ken Dial on the topic for more reading: Wing-Assisted Incline Running and the Evolution of Flight .

  • Dial, Kenneth P. (2003) Science Vol. 299. no. 5605, pp. 402 – 404. DOI: 10.1126/science.1078237


  1. I was really interested in that as well, once I saw video of it, it made quite a lot of sense. Have you seen the show ‘Morphed’? It’s great, and the one about the turkey was fun. (I’m into birds, if you can’t tell!) :)

  2. I haven’t seen Morphed (I don’t get many channels outside of a couple Discovery channels, BBC, and Greek/Cypriot channels. Thanks for telling me about the show – I’ll check it out online.


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