From airplanes to birds, the phenomenon of flight has always amazed and mystified humans. Therefore, it is unsurprising that scientists have invested a substantial amount of research into unraveling the secrets of flight evolution. Over the course of the past decade, the science of flight evolution has recently experienced a research renaissance, most of the information has been confined to the ivory tower of academia.
In On the Wing, David Alexander delves into the evolution of flight in each of the four animal groups that evolved powered flight: insects, pterosaurs, birds, and bats. Alexander presents and compares each group's evolutionary history, including diversification and partial or complete extinction, especially as related to flight. The evolution of flight in animals is fascinating story riddled with scientific controversy and colorful characters, from the incredible Archaeopteryx to the recently-discovered feathered dinosaur Microraptor. Chapter topics include aerodynamics, comparisons and contrasts among the powered flyers, and the ultimate evolution away from flight. Alexander even examines the surprisingly diverse group of gliding animals, including squirrels, snakes, and ants.
Through rigorous yet accessible writing, Alexander offers a comprehensive and engaging account of the evolution of flight, from dinosaurs to modern birds. On the Wing will delight and inform everyone from bird lovers to dinosaur enthusiasts, and offers key insights into the perpetual mystery of flight.
1 Can't Tell the Players without a Scorecard
2 Theme and Variations: Similarities and Differences among Nature's Flyers
3 How to Fly?
4 Gliding Animals: Flight without Power
5 Insects: First to Fly
6 Birds: The Feathered Flyers
7 Bats: Wings in the Dark
8 Pterosaurs: Bygone Dragons
9 Pedestrians Descended from Flyers: Loss of Flight
10 Unifying Themes?
David Alexander grew up near Dayton, Ohio, and earned a B.S. at the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. at Duke University. He has been on the faculty of the University of Kansas for over 20 years.