Wings

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Tristan, Sep 19, 2004.

  1. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Instead of fantasizing about bird-like wings, why not settle for hang gliding?
     
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Although feathers and fur do both provide insulation, feathers offer less drag. Ever see any fast swiming under sea creature, with fur? Several feathered birds are very good underwater swimmers. - Same is true in air. (Bats are probably developed from tree climbing, fruit eating, rats and got trapped with their evolutionary gift of fur.)

    Perhaps more important is the difference in the way fur and feathers work thermally in sunlight. People from Africa (and most other animals) with fur* have black fur.

    Not nearly as many animals with fur near the poles, but their fur is normally white or of a light color at least. This is usually explained by the presence or absence of snow, but that is the factor of lessor importance.

    At the pole, where it is cold and the sun is weak, one "wants" to both have an insulation layer and to forward scatter each photon down to the skin, thur the insulation layer and absorb it there. Near the Equator, one "wants" to absorb the intense solar photons in dead tissue at least a centimeter away from the skin and in a region where the resulting heat is more likely to be given to the surrounding air, instead of the body.
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    *As part of the unconscious effort to make humans unique, not just another animal, we call human fur "hair."

    PS I doubt that your simple statement about fur having superior insulation quality encompesses the problem, is true, etc. You must at least speak of what type of energy flux you are trying to impead, where you want the energy incident to be disipated, etc. Fur is better for solar flux control, but I think if your body is significantly hotter (as is case of birds) than the air and the insulation is to prevent loss of body heat with the least thickness of insulation layer, feathers are greatly superior to fur.

    As a general rule "mother nature" knows and has found the optium solution to all problems. I like to say: "My body is smarter than all the doctors in the world." - I avoid going to doctors unless my body is getting into significant trouble. I.e. I suffer with my alergies, instead of take pills etc. In last 30 years, I have had one systemic infection that required an anti-biotic. - This is not an exception to my idea that "mother nature knows best." - She built that dam bug also. I waited with fever* for almost a week, before concluding that she had given that bug a better set of gifts (weapons for our mutual war) than me. Most people my age take half a dozen pills each day - I take none and am in great physical shape, very rarely get sick. - My immune system is strong as it has had to work without a lot of medical help.
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    *Good idea to keep careful watch on your fever temperature. If it goes above 102F think seriously about taking some asprin, above 103 definitely take some. Above 104F, get in tub with cold water, ice in it, if you need to. Mine stayed about 101 for days so I did nothing. If my "smarter-than-doctors" body wants to set my temperature at 101F to make conditions tough on the invador - I would be stupid to stop it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 31, 2007
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  5. matthyaouw Registered Senior Member

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    Yeah, actually!

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  7. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Good example, I forgot about them (otters), but their fur is well adapted, oilly I think, and all hairs seem to point towards the tail, I think - not what one normally thinks as "fur." I wonder if they are like I suspect the bat is - Trapped with fur from their evolutionary past and now in a new aquatic life style?
     
  8. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    There are also fur-bearing lobsters
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4785482.stm

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  9. draqon Banned Banned

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  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0309_060309_yeti_crab.html

    Not a hoax

    Here is a bigger picture:

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  11. draqon Banned Banned

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  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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  13. draqon Banned Banned

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  14. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    You're right to be suspicious. I was too. Especially because of these:

    Fur-bearing trout:

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    Fur-bearing crab:

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    These are fictitious.
     
  15. valich Registered Senior Member

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    Yes, less drag of course. Lot's of mammals near the pole and all have white fur: Polar Bears, Arctic Foxes, Arctic Hare, Mountain Goats, Canadian Lynx (grayish). Don't know of any whith black fur near the poles? The conventional hypothesis why mammals have white fur in colder regions near the poles is for camouflage. Near the equator, lot's of mammals with black fur in the tropical forests - again, I assume for camouflage? - but not out on the savannah.

    Don't know what you mean by "what type of energy fluc you are trying to impede, dissipate, etc."?

    What type of animals are you thinking about here? Intuitively, one would think that near the equator you'd want to reflect the suns rays. The nearer you get to the equator, many mammals have more bristle fur rather than an undercoat of insulating fur. Begs the question why those of African descent have black skin, but this was addressed thoroughly - though with inadequate answers - on other threads.

    Nice reply. Hope you can elaborate a bit. Yes, my post was simple: not very analytical.
     
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    I want to not stall at low speeds, also land and take off in small areas, operate independently of thermals, etc.
    Seals have fur, as well as otters (I knew a guy who raced an otter while ice skating - very cool experience. The otter was under the ice - had no problem keeping up).

    (Bats did not develop from rats, or any other rodent - side point. IIRC they are more closely related to us than to rats. Their wings are not furry, the way a bird's wings are feathery - fur does not hold shape, and drags - and they are pretty slow fliers. )
     
  17. kaleemarie Registered Member

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    i agree that we would need those things to be able to have wings.
    i know ill never get them. oh well. but its not completely impossible if we could encode those traits into human DNA. it'll take a while, but its not completely impossible if the traits are inserted in the embryotic stage.
    :shrug:
     
  18. Hapsburg Hellenistic polytheist Valued Senior Member

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    Recent evidence shows that the small bats of the suborder microchiroptera are "true bats" or the original bats, who use echolocation and eat insects and other small animals. The larger bats of the suborder megachiroptera split off from older bats ages ago, but developed into such a away that they do not use echolocation, and are mostly herbivorous. Some scientists think they are more closely related to primates than true bats, but there's little evidence for it, just some morphological similarities.
    Little is known about the evolution of the first bats, making it very hard to make solid judgments.
     
  19. moonseeker363 Registered Member

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    Wing Questions

    Okay, I'm working on a novel with a winged human and want this to be plausible. (I love this topic, it's fascinating)
    I've read through most of the posts and have some questions.
    So let's assume the human is small - 5' or shorter - with a fairly small head, light skull, and short limbs. The wings are like a bat, not a bird.
    I'd like the wings to extend from the back, but a lot of you are saying that's not possible. Is there any way it would be? If the arms were adapted to become wings, how would that work?
    So you'd probably need a lot of speed to get lift. If the human had hollow (or just very light, porous) bones, how would that affect them? Would they be very fragile, break easily? Would running even be possible, or too much strain on the bones? Could they walk long distances?

    How would the skeleton be altered? What if, to reduce weight, you cut down on arm muscle? Maybe weak arms, with just enough muscle to have dexterity in the fingers.
    What organs could be removed/altered to keep reducing weight? A simple digestive system, and a really simple diet? (just grains and sugars, I think someone mentioned?)
    Someone also mentioned a fast metabolism and high body temperature. Would their skin feel warm to the touch? Would they stay warmer in cool weather? How much would they have to eat? Small portions often, or large portions spaced? (I'm guessing small, frequent meals)

    Assuming you had hollow bones, were a small person, and reduced weight through organ modifications, how large would the wings be? Would you be able to fly long distances? How maneuverable would they be? How much flapping? Gliding?
    Sorry for all the questions, I really have no idea where to start from. Any advice would be appreciated!
    Thanks!!

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  20. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Well I hope that your novel is pure fiction or science fiction because that is what you are going to have to write in order for winged humans to be understanable otherwise there isn't anyway to make them plausable. You state that you're already writing this book, so how did you start it out?
     
  21. moonseeker363 Registered Member

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    Yeah, completely fictional (fantasy, but not in a dungeons-and-dragons sort of way). There's even a touch of magic in the created world, so really, anything is possible.
    But I don't just want to stick a pair of wings on my character - I want to know how they work, how they affect her. She's obviously not going to be quite human.
    I want the wings to be plausible in a suspended-disbelief sort of way.
    Thanks!
     
  22. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Could you refer to her as an angel or something along that line? To go into great detail about why your characters have wings isn't as important as to who they are and what they are doing in your story.
     
  23. moonseeker363 Registered Member

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    It's not going to be technical. I'd like to know about how they would affect her so I can weave bits of it into the story. For example, if she has a higher temp does she feel warm to the touch? What does she eat? Everything I asked in the first post, I'd like to know. It affects the story if her bones are hollow, if her arms are weak (but would that even make you weak? I don't know - that's why I'm asking). The wings are a big part of who she is, they isolate her; I need to find out just how much of her they would change.
     

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