A couple of weeks ago I decided to add abstracts to the bibliography of the Pterosaur Database, a laudable intent. I have done 2008 in a week and started on 2007, intending to work backwards in time to complete the job. This sounds a logical approach, but there are over 1300 abstracts to go. That is rather more than I can cope with at present, and I need to locate copes of them all.
A typical example is;
Wilkinson M. T., 2007, Sailing the skies: the improbable aeronautical success of the pterosaurs, Journal of Experimental Biology 210, 1663-1671
Matthew T. Wilkinson - Department of Zoology,
Pterosaur wings bore a striking resemblance to sails, having a bony spar at the leading edge, formed by the forelimb and one enormously elongated digit, and an elastic wing membrane. Such simple wings would be expected to have performed badly due to excessive deformation, membrane flutter and poor control characteristics. Here I discuss how certain anatomical features, specifically a forewing membrane in the inner part of the wing and a system of fibres embedded in the distal part, may have countered these shortcomings. The forewing, supported by the unique pteroid bone, would have reduced the wings' geometric twist, and has been shown in wind tunnel tests to improve membrane stability at low angles of attack and dramatically increase the maximum lift coefficient at high angles of attack. The function of the fibres is poorly understood, but it is suggested that they improved membrane stability and optimised twist nearer the wingtips.
There are some days when I feel I have bitten off a little more than I can chew!