For my newly created fantasy world (for a self-written RPG) I want to design some not-as-usual animals to give my players some feeling of otherness. One of my ideas is that of a bird-like creature but with four wings instead of the usual two ones we know from our earth. As I know from research (mainly here on stack exchange, especially this thread ), there is enough arguable evolutional potential for such a hexapedal species to develop, as I want to keep the wing-independent feet (unlike for example microraptors ). But now I’m stuck with one problem: I would like to have the wingpairs atop of each other (like in this image) but every scientific approach I can find (here or anywhere else) leads to wingpairs behind each other (like depicted on this page ). My understanding of wing-anatomy and aerodynamics is not good enough to work out if in my case the upper wings and the lower wings would hinder each other while flying and if the needed musculature could grow in the birds body anyway.

So here is my question: Is a birdlike creature with two wingpairs atop of each other scientifically plausible?

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    $\begingroup$ Before thinking about natural evolution, think about biomechanics. How would such a wing configuration work from an engineering point of view? How to they move in order to create lift? How do they work for gliding flight? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ My take is life finds a way, just remember to keep weight and drag in check and you should be OK. Perhaps the tiny lower wings help to create small vortexes which ensure smooth landing ;D $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ This question seems very closely related : What are the advantages of four winds over two wings ? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ @StephenG: I don't think so. My question is especialy if one kind of 'positioning' of the wings is possible, the question you linked goes about advantages and disatvantages of 4 wings. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ do the wings need to be the flapping type or gliding ok? since maybe it can work like early airplane or like this one, but i dont know anything about aerodynamic though. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


The upper wings and lower wings would completely hinder each other. A bird's wing already moves nearly a full 180 degrees of vertical rotation (at least in the tips of the wings) and adding a second wing will lessen the range of each wing There's no reason this would evolve naturally, and it's highly doubtful that such a creature would be able to fly.

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    $\begingroup$ you could have a second set that aid in steering, like microraptor, but I agree if you try to use them to generate lift they just get in each others way. if you look at a bird flight stroke there is no room left for anything else. several films of flight can be found here people.eku.edu/ritchisong/554notes3.html $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 14:18

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