Tests hint bird tails are misunderstood | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


News

Tests hint bird tails are misunderstood

By
12:24pm, July 11, 2001

In the hotly debated matter of bird-tail aerodynamics, the first wind tunnel measurements indicate that the prevailing theory may be wrong.

The basic avian tail has the triangular shape of supersonic planes like the Concorde, explains Jeremy Rayner at the University of Leeds in England. Since the early 1990s, dozens of ornithology papers have therefore drawn on the mathematics of these delta-wing aircraft. Biologists have argued over how much of the shape of a bird's tail comes from aerodynamics and how much from males' need to bedazzle females.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content