1. We do know now that flight came after the feather, and that the early stages of feathers were not aerodynamic. It’s only the most advanced stages in feather evolution that have that aerodynamic structure. But ultimately the result of all of this evolution is an incredible adaptation for flight. If you look at a bird’s wing, it has a particular shape that is similar to the shape you would see if you looked out the window of an airplane, and that is an airfoil-shaped wing with a curved upper surface that gives that wing a bit of extra lift in the air, and a bird wing has that shape just as an airplane wing does. But what’s amazing about a bird wing is that the individual flight feathers are also shaped like airfoils. …

    So what you get for a bird wing is an airfoil made up of airfoils and the bird has muscle control over all of those feathers, so it can constantly adapt and change the position of feathers and the shape of the wing to react to any change in air temperature, or wind direction, or air pressure, making it a truly incredible way to fly.

    — Thor Hanson on how feathers enables flight in birds

  2. Thor Hanson




  1. So here I was with a wheelbarrow full of zebra remains in the hot African sun and after transporting that stuff around and slopping it hither and yon, I ended up covered with the blood and the guts and the gore, so to speak. And I realized, of course, that in that moment, I was very much like a vulture myself. But with my long ponytail and my T-shirt and my jeans, I wasn’t very well adapted to the lifestyle.  I was covered with the stuff and it got me thinking…about vultures and their feeding habits and the advantage of having a bare head.  I had originally been wondering what would make a bird lose something so inherent to its nature as its feathers. And of course, in this case for the vultures, it’s this awful stuff they’re eating every day and having lost their feathers that allows them to remain much cleaner and more free from bacteria and parasites and disease.

    Thor Hanson on what got him interested in feathers

  2. Thor Hanson



  1. Posted on 4 September, 2012

    73,107 notes | Permalink

    Reblogged from fat-birds

    In anticipation of today’s interview with conservation biologist Thor Hanson about his book called Feathers, we bring you Rocking Owl, courtesy of fat-birds.

  2. cute birds


    Thor Hanson