Free «The Relations Between Flight and Wings» UK Essay Sample

The Relations Between Flight and Wings

The relationship between flight and wings depends on the wingspan of birds, objects, or planes that would be sufficient to lift weight. In this regard, wings play a significant role in enabling a bird or a plane to fly. Besides, there are many factors that affect the force of lift that a pair of wings can maintain to support weight. They include the following: the size of the wings, the speed of the air currents, the density of air, the angle of inclination, and the angle of the wings in relation to the direction of flight, also referred to as the angle of attack. The two papers, “Wing-Assisted Incline Running and the Evolution of Flight” by K. Dial and “Aerodynamics of Wing-Assisted Incline Running in Birds” by B. Tobalske and K. Dial, study the relationship of flight and wings. These two works are compared regarding the differences and the similarities in the relationship of flight and wings. This paper also summarizes their main findings.

The authors, Tobalske and Dial (2007) and Dial (2003), contribute to the subject of the relationship of flight and wings, mainly focusing on the WAIR concept, the wing-assisted incline running. In their distinctive papers, the authors discuss WAIR stating that it is a lasting behavior pattern of the birds. Besides, the authors state that this concept, WAIR, is applied in a bid to follow the historical origin of the concept of flying to the present times. Birds use WAIR to climb the tree trunks at various inclinations, which is attributed to beating their wings as they lift and maintain their position. The researchers believe that the WAIR concept can be used to explain how other extinct animals purported to use wings, climbed mountains, cliffs, and trees same as birds and planes do nowadays. Dial (2003) states that this concept was applied by feathered Theropods, such as Caudipteryx, to run fast uphill and to fly much higher up in the air.

The authors conducted separate experimental studies on chukars to establish the vertical running ability of the birds and the factors that impede or support this upward running process. Studies have been conducted for a long time to establish this notion of WAIR (Senter, 2006). In this regard, the authors prepared an experimental study of chukar partridge, where they studied chukar’s upward running ability on the inclined surface at the following stages: baby, juvenile, and adult. The study entailed making a comparison of the slopes that normal chukars and the birds with plucked feathers could climb. The researchers created the necessary settings, such as smooth and textured surfaces for the chukars. On the each inclined surface, the normal birds, whose features had not been previously altered, climbed the steep slopes at 105o inclination. On the other hand, the baby chicks and the chicks with plucked feathers (altered) climbed the surface inclined maximum at 45o before integrating the beating of the wings at steep slopes with an aim of boosting the lift. From their findings, it was clear that these birds would climb great heights depending on the age: the older they were, the greater heights they could climb. However, as the chukars pass the milestone of their adulthood, their ability to climb high on the steep surfaces begins to decrease gradually. Baby chukars hatch with the insignificant number of flight feathers (Nudds & Dyke, 2009). However, with time, large feathers grow, and they reach a point when they can fly with ease. At their developmental stage, the baby chukars make use of the WAIR concept to climb the steep tree trunks as they enter adulthood.

Tobalske and Dial (2007) and Dial (2003) similarly attempted to explain how these birds make use of WAIR rather than the usual flying ability to climb trees. WAIR utilizes less energy comparing to the usual flights (Bundle & Dial, 2003). Besides, these birds also make use of few muscles. They use the shoulder and pectoral muscles, which make beating of the wings easier (Bicudo, Buttemer, Chappell, Pearson, & Bech, 2010). Such reasoning helps to describe why birds still find WAIR an invaluable aspect of climbing steep slopes rather quickly (Jackson, Tobalske & Dial, 2011). Mainly, WAIR facilitates the take-off, which requires less energy than flying. The birds combine the power of the legs and the wings to foster an upward movement, such as climbing an inclined slope (Dial, Randall & Dial, 2006). The wings flap as a bird makes several quick steps, which help the bird to either run away from a predator or catch their prey quickly (Dial, 2003). Such technique helps the birds to conserve energy that will be needed when flying is inevitable. The birds can escape from the predators by flying away as the last resort, especially if the predator can climb the trees or run fast on inclined slopes (Dial & Jackson, 2010).

The WAIR concept helps the birds to use aerodynamic and body power more efficiently than ordinary birds. The WAIR factor is beneficial to the bird because it helps them to boost their robustness, keep balance, and build up stamina to use at the great distances (Holtz, 2007). The authors argue that the WAIR concept is beneficial for the survival of the birds in the wild, which includes not only running away from the predators but also maximizing the chances of reproduction (Dial, 2003). Besides, these birds use this concept to look for food on the trunks, treetops, and cliffs, which would be difficult in the usual circumstances. Most importantly, the WAIR concept is historically successful marking years and years of its use by birds and nowadays by planes (Tobalske & Dial, 2007). Moreover, the modern development of planes is still dependent on the WAIR approach. Plane developers study the WAIR concept to help increase the lift of the planes and then minimize the drag or eliminate any factors that might cause resistance.

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The authors propose similar views regarding the subject of WAIR of birds. In particular, both authors claim that baby chukars are capable to take flight using their wings similarly to the juvenile and adult chukars. In their findings, any variations in the extent of flight were attributed to their ability to learn how to fly, which improves with time, until when they became juvenile or adult chukars. Besides, the authors of the two papers discovered that the dramatic difference in feather morphology did not determine the difference in flight ability of the baby, juvenile, or adult chukars. The findings showed that the ability to take flight was developed due to the power of the muscles and their age but not because of the shape or size of the feathers. These factors play a significant role in establishing the origin of the bird flight and wings.

Dial (2003) mentions that many bird species are altricial, which means that they give birth to the completely featherless birds. These birds are completely reliant and cannot move around after the moment of hatching. In this regard, the mature birds build their nests high above the ground, on the tall trees, to protect the hatchlings from the predators that walk on the ground, but do not climb. However, the “precocial species” of birds, such as the “Galliformes and Tinamiformes”, hatch completely feathered and have the ability to leave their ground nests approximately the next minute after hatching to search for food and run away from the predators (Dial, 2003, p. 402). Besides, the chukar partridges use their well-adapted legs to climb the textured surfaces with inclinations of up to 45o. Dial (2003) shares the similar sentiments with Tobalske and Dial (2007) when he mentions that chukar can run up the textured and inclined surfaces while flapping their growing wings similar to juvenile or adult chukars. According to Dial (2003), birds can make use of the WAIR concept to climb the perpendicular surfaces without needing to previously run some distance. Dial states that this behavior is normal and acceptable for birds. However, it is evident that WAIR is still not acknowledged because it is rather abrupt. Many of these birds save their flight energy and make use of WAIR to run away from the predators or to run to their nest constructed high in a tree. These birds run at a significantly high speed, which requires high-speed recording equipment to help observe the kinematics.

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These two papers share a common point: the WAIR model is an actual representation that seeks to describe how other flying animals, such as dinosaurs, adapted to flying. The model describes mainly how the front legs of these flying animals developed into wings through a series of adaptations and transformations. The transformations provided these birds with a remarkable ability to create a unique force, which fostered the upward climbing factor. Taking into consideration the reasoning of both papers, it is possible to deduce how the flying dinosaurs made use of the wings to survive. Mainly, the flying dinosaurs used their transformed and well-adapted wings to boost their running. This aerodynamic ability helped the dinosaurs to escape predators, search for food, and thereafter climb the trees with ease.

The mentioned papers confirm that there is a possibility of the development of force as a result of wing beating, which helped the early birds run fast up the steep slopes. Although Tobalske and Dial (2007) have a different opinion on the subject at some point, both papers argue that there is a possibility that birds used of wings as the major elements of successfully boosting their speed and creating the climbing advantage. The power of the wings, muscles, and angle of inclinations play a significant role in climbing steep slopes. These factors can be those crucial facts that help describe the transition of birds from entirely terrestrial animals to the flying ones. Considering the reasoning presented by the authors in their papers, it is possible to deduce that the birds have transformed in order to adapt to the evident changes in their ecosystem. These birds have been forced to use less energy while searching for food and escaping from predators, which is idea of the WAIR concept that the papers address uniformly. In this regard, they received the transformed muscle cells and skeleton structure to suit the arising demands. For the bird to climb even more steep inclinations or lengthy inclined surfaces, it must develop their muscles and then have strong bones to support their weight and build up strength. It also appears easier for the baby chicks than adults or juveniles to escape from danger because of the weight of the muscles and bones. Such attributes could lead to a greater adaptation, such as extended arms, development of actual feathers and fused wishbones, which were depicted by the two papers.

One of the major differences described in the papers is caused by the different methodology that the authors utilized to depict various findings. Mainly, Tobalske and Dial (2007, p. 1742) utilized a “digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV) and measured air velocity, vorticity, circulation, and added mass in the wake of chukar partridge Alectoris chukars they engaged in WAIR". In their new findings, Tobalske and Dial (2007) noted a distinctive difference as compared to the sole discovery of Dial (2003) in the other paper, which utilized a different study methodology: use of the high-speed recordings to visualize the kinematics in the natural and laboratory settings. Tobalske and Dial discovered that the lift created by the wings and not wing inertia or profile drag plays a significant role in speeding the bird’s body in the direction of the substrate during WAIR. Besides, Tobalske, and Dial together realized that underdeveloped wings, which cannot allow a bird to fly, can generate sufficient lift during WAIR. On this account, Tobalske and Dial predicted that the neuromuscular power output, but not external wing morphology, holds back the beginning of a flight capability during growth and development of birds.

Besides, in the study similar to the two fellow authors, Tobalske and Dial, Dial (2003) learnt that the wings played a significant role in creating lift by providing active support to the bird’s legs when it is climbing any inclined surfaces. However, Dial (2003, p. 403) clearly states that when birds flap their wings while climbing the slope, there is a strong probability of a production of "aerodynamic or inertia forces" that "lift the bird's center of mass vertically". Dial further confirms the subject of "aerodynamic or inertia forces" by testing the ability of the birds to climb on the relatively slippery inclined surface and textured surface. In his findings, the author showed that thr birds could not climb on the inclined at 50o smooth surface even with fully developed feathers because of sliding, but could climb well on the inclined at 50o textured surface. In the findings, Dial (2003, p. 403) established that “aerodynamic or inertial forces” tilting in the direction of the inclined textured surface could increase traction, giving the bird an ability to thrust the body up this inclined surface.


In conclusion, the relationship between flight and wings is a serious subject that the two papers have analyzed in detail. The authors focused on establishing the effect of the WAIR concept for birds by conducting an experimental study of chukars. The authors studied chukars at the baby, juvenile, and adult age to establish how they use WAIR when climbing tree trunks. Mainly, the authors set natural and laboratory settings for the birds, which included normal birds and birds with plucked feathers. Moreover, the authors integrated both smooth and rough inclined surfaces. The authors presented the similar reasoning and findings regarding chukar’s use of WAIR. The authors believe that WAIR allows birds to conserve energy as they climb trees with high levels of lift in both the baby and adult chukars. However, Tobalske and Dial, upon utilizing a different study methodology, the DPIV, established different findings from Dial. Tobalske and Dial discovered that wing inertia or profile drag do not contribute to lift, but the flapping the wings does. They realized that a bird with the strong muscles can climb even faster on steeper inclinations. Most importantly, these contradicting findings from the two papers call for further research and experimental studies to ascertain or refute their findings, to prove the hypothesis, and confirm its historical significance.


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