A request! » « Ben Domenech: creationist I think the Swedes built these… Check out this pre-pterosaur, Sharovipteryx: delta-winged, with a canard. Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet A request! » « Ben Domenech: creationist
Speaking of mechanically improbable animals, have you seen this new sauropod? When I first saw the reconstruction, I was wondering how it didn’t fall on its face, but of course its neck was full of air sacs…animals are so weird!
No doubt: it resembles a Gripen fighter (or rather: Gripen resembles Sharovipteryx). I wonder how many times they crashed during development. Er, I mean evolution…
(For those who may not know, the Gripen fighter crashed spectacularly twice during its development, with both events televised, which led to a lot of jokes in Swedish media.)
Jeff Fecke says
Coincidentally, Ben Domenech’s head is also filled with air sacs.
it seems quite odd with the expanse of skin ahead of the main supporting members, maybe it was more parachute like than than actual forward flight
This proves that the Entellijunt Designer exists, and that he works for Lockheed.
Ian H Spedding says
I was thinking more the SAAB JA37 Viggen…
What really scares me is that this creature was clearly optimized for supersonic flight.
I disagree. I wouldn’t fly that thing supersonic without adding strakes to the wings.
Not to be a Messerschmitt about swedish airplanes, but this little bugger looks more like our older “Viggen”. A “Gripen” has more recemblance to a groundhog, or maybe a badger – both earthdigging animals. And of course, the thing that looks like a tail must be the artists misinterpretation of the exhaust jet, don´t you think.
Slippery Pete says
A canard?! Really? It’s a machine! So God built it! Does it have a propeller?
I apologize for a nit-pick that perhaps is not even necessary, but although Sharovipteryx is a pre-pterosaur in the chronological sense (it’s Early Triassic, whereas the oldest pterosaur known so far is Late Triassic), it isn’t a pre-pterosaur in the evolutionary, ancestor-descendant sense (it’s a prolacertiform archosauromorph, a bit off to the side of whatever line led to pterosaurs).
Don Culberson says
This is the coolest thing I have seen today (or am likely to see… we are in the middle of advising). I posted it, picture and reference, on my bulletin board outside the office, in hopes that some of my advisees will see it and have something more interesting to talk about than how much they want to avoid taking hard courses.
PZ Myers says
Yeah, that’s why I used the term “pre” — it’s just an old flyer from before pterosaurs ruled the skies.
A Viggen is exactly what came to my mind. That I can recognize old military hardware is yet another strike against my liberal cred, isn’t it?
John Stone says
I have an idea. Let’s legislate that HS will teach the Design of Intelligent Math. We can adopt the text called the Book of Numbers.
Trade-off. Appreciating cool gadgets increases your geek cred. It’s just unfortunate that many really cool gadgets were designed to kill people.
Ian H Spedding says
I suppose, but that and your gun-totin’ past does no end of good for your red-state, rifle-in-the-back-of-the-pickup
There’s also a bit of similarity to the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Torbjorn Larsson says
“I wonder how many times they crashed during development.”
If they were like Viggen, many. IIRC, it has a worse than average accident record for a fighter plane, especially during development.
OTOH, Gripen, who is a partly unstable fastturning plane, has actually a far better record, if memory serves. Its electronics, which is keeping it together, is very good.
It’s just that the development was done on a shoestring budget (a fifth of a US fighter development, IIRC), so the crashes were spectacularly disturbing for the industry. And yes, great television, too. :-)
Wing membranes on the hindlimbs, eh? I seem to recall a series of science fiction stories (author forgotten) that included a race of intelligent hind-wing fliers. Having the wings on the hindlimbs left the forelimbs free to evolve for manipulation.
Torbjorn Larsson says
i don’t know if it’s a series, but Poul Anderson has such a species in his “People of the wind”. He made a lot of speculations on specific evolutionary adaptions that made his flying species presumably able to go above our birds in weight. They usually had to make a handstance to free the wings for flying.
Yes, the problem with Gripen development was not that it had a bad accident record – two crashes during the entire devel phase is very good – but that they managed to get both crashes on live national television. The second one was in the center of Stockholm (the capital), during perhaps the largest crowd festival of the year, adding several tens of thousands of live witnesses to the “festivity”.
Such compromises would be unnecessary if we weren’t trapped in the tetrapod body plan.
I’ve seen a lot of reconstructions of this animal, but I never paid attention to the pelvis. Has anyone suggested that sharovopteryx had sufficiently hypertrophied leg muscles for true flight, as opposed to gliding?
And it looks more like a JA 37 than a JA 39. JA 37’s have a kink in the wing where the knees are. The tail reminds me of the electronics boom on Sukhoi fighters though.
David Peters says
This is a poor approximation of a Sharovipteryx. There was a canard, but this one is imaginary, as the authors stated (so why did they write the paper??). The real canard extended posteriorly from the front limbs, just as in pterosaurs, with a small membrane anchored by a tiny pteroid back to the quite large deltopectoral crest of the humerus. Sharov found some traces of fingers more than 35 years ago. They’ve been essentially ignored ever since. The ilium is greatly extended both fore and aft anchoring much larger thigh muscles than shown here (how could these be missed??), plus the creature had prepubes. See one of the 2006 issues of Prehistoric Times for a more precise account of all this. This was one cousin of the leaping four-winged forms that eventually led to pterosaurs.