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Flight Evolution
    Many experts maintain that some physical characteristics that evolved increased an animals ability to catch prey.  The ones with the greatest ability survived while those that didn't either evolved other mechanisms or died off. Most scientists believe that the lighter bodies, increased maneuverability and stronger muscles, resulted in a higher jump - and that flight was a byproduct of jumping.  Others argue that the wings were used for gliding down from high places in order to surprise unwary prey.

Compsognathus longipes - 150-148 MYA

   C. longipes lived 20 million years before Sinosauropteryx prima to which it was closely related.  C. longipes was a bird-like dinosaur that walked on two long thin legs.  It had short arms with two clawed fingers on each hand.  No feathers have yet been for the species.

Protarchaeopteryx robusta - 125 MYA

   This small dinosaur was found in China.  It is about the size of a turkey.  It had feathers covering its short arms, most of its body and a fan on its short tail.  Its feathers were not asymmetrical, which indicates that it could not fly.  The feathers probably added in jumping

   

Archaeopteryx lithographica - 150-148 MYA

   Long considered the first bird, it had asymmetrical feathers and fully developed wigs that it could lift high above its head. It lacked the strong chest muscles and short tail essential for prolonged controlled flight.  Flying was probably limited to short hops.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus - Modern day bald eagle

   Eagles eat fish, birds and small mammals, which makes them "birds of prey."  They are the modern day raptors and are classified as such. They have light hollow bones, strong wing muscles, well-developed feather and a short tail. They are excellent flyers.    

 

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