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It is easy to put avian and reptilian shoulders on the same frame. Unfortunately, humans are mammals (apes, in fact), not reptiles, and hence our shoulders are very close to our backs, heavily overlapping with wher usual avian shoulders should go. Furthermore, the wing-bearing shoulders will require a lot of muscle for flight

Given these issues, is there a way to combine avian (or at least wing-bearing) and humanoid shoulders to allow independent wings and arms in their proper places?

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  • $\begingroup$ Human shoulders are way to high positioned to support the center of gravity in horizontal flight anyway. $\endgroup$
    – ths
    Nov 8 '21 at 11:26
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Given that the bone anatomy of a bird wing and the bone anatomy of a human arm are very similar in structure, but differ in range of motion and muscle structure, it's difficult to find ways to combine them to the same location. The real problem is that of the shoulder joint. It's a very different bone structure in birds than it is in humans. Like so:

Bone anatomy of a human shoulder

Bone anatomy of a bird shoulder and wing

Fusing two humerus bones together would mean that every time your avian creature moves it's arm, the wing will move as well. They also would not be able to fold up their wings without putting their arms in a strange position. You can't really have two separate bones that share a joint socket as ligaments and muscle structure will cause problems. You can't put a second socket in the same place without creating a second shoulder, which, even if you ignore how strange that would look, it would not work well with how flat and wide a human scapula is compared to a bird's.

In short and to answer your question directly: No, there isn't really a great way to combine wings and arms to the same joint space.

However, I don't want to completely dissuade you from creating humanoid avian creatures because as an exotic bird owner and fantasy writer I am quite partial to such types of creatures myself. Here's a link to an alternate form of putting wings on a human: https://www.deviantart.com/dcroleplays/art/Anatomy-Of-An-Angel-451670019

It mostly focuses on back muscles and bone structure, and goes into detail on how things would differ from regular human or bird anatomy. In addition to that info-graphic, I would suggest a slightly rounder and/or bigger ribcage, and that you do some research into how birds fly - muscle structure and movement especially, - the potential ramifications of a humanoid creature having the type of hollow bones that birds do, and how to apply the highly efficient and much required respiratory system of a flighted bird to a humanoid creature. All those things (and likely a few more than I am less aware of as I am not a bird vet or biologist) combined are what make birds capable of flight and thus, will help make a humanoid capable of flight just that much more plausible. Because in the end, with fantasy like this, plausible is probably as close as you're gonna get.

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  • $\begingroup$ The muscle anatomy is incomplete for the wings. Look at the size of the pectorals in a normal human and think that: (1) it serves much shorter lever arms (2) and yet aren't designed to support the entire body weight for long periods of time (as a flight will require). I'm afraid the wing pectoral will need at least 3x the mass/volume of the arm pectorals (which may cascade into some issues to be solved with the respiration). $\endgroup$ Nov 8 '21 at 6:40
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. There would need to be a lot of human anatomical systems that see changes in order to make a humanoid creature capable of flight. But the question wasn't "How do I make humans capable of flight?" it was about placement of wings and having them independent from arms. Placing them just below existing arms, and attached more to the back than on a horizontal plane like arms are, would create wings that are independent from arms and still have the space they need to move correctly. $\endgroup$
    – WordyBirdy
    Nov 9 '21 at 3:48

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