I was trying to make a creature for a fictional dimension that is extremely hot and has many cliffs and difficult to maneuver areas, leading me to the conclusion that flying creatures would be dominant due to them being able to cross from cliff to cliff, as travel is very difficult for any other creatures due to how treacherous and dangerous the dimension is. I was watching the film Avatar casually, and noticed the Great Leonopteryx had split wings near the tips.

Now, I am oblivious to basic physics, but I thought that perhaps this could cause a creature with similar wings to swiftly plummet, and then put their wings back together to glide, which I thought could be useful for traversing through the frequent ravines and pits of the dimension, or generally in situations which require a swift plummet to get through an obstacle or escape danger if one doesn't have the time to slowly glide downward. Similarly, I thought perhaps this attribute could be used to increase speed while diving at a target by splitting only a few sections open and not all of them.

Please note that the reason for them evolving this can be dismissed due to it being an artificial dimension. And any other biology is up in the air, besides the fact they must fly and be able to withstand high temperatures. So, in conclusion, what are the disadvantages and advantages of a creature is capable of splitting their wings apart?

  • $\begingroup$ Out of curiosity, what level of gravity does this dimension have? $\endgroup$
    – sprout
    Nov 10, 2021 at 4:37
  • $\begingroup$ @sprout Anywhere from 80% to 60% of Earth's gravity, it isn't written in stone as of yet. $\endgroup$ Nov 10, 2021 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @A Confused Writer Ohhh okay, cool. And what sort of material/tissue are the wings actually made of [it's ok if you haven't figured this out yet, it might just make answering easier :)]? $\endgroup$
    – sprout
    Nov 10, 2021 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ Probably dexterity or flexibility would be my first guess. But if they can come apart you have to have something holding them together like a muscle or tendons, and there is an inherent fragility to something that isn't solid. $\endgroup$
    – Michael H.
    Nov 23, 2021 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ I imagine they'd be similar to feathers without actually being feathers. $\endgroup$
    – Lemming
    Nov 26, 2021 at 16:11

2 Answers 2


Non-Aerodynamcs Answer:

I'll come at this question from other angles besides the actual principles of flight (so, I'm assuming all these scenarios are taking place on the ground):

Possible Advantages:

  • Are your creature's wings too cumbersome for the creature to fit through a tight space it needs to get through? Well, fear no more! By splitting its wings, it can now compact them similarly to insect wing folding.

  • Does a carnivore have its teeth sunk into a corner of one of the creature's wings? Well, if your creature can pull off autotomy, then he'll only have to sacrifice part of his wing, rather than all of it.


Flaps/Slats Some aircraft have flaps and or slats which open up to allow to flow through the wing. Flaps are on the back edge while slats are on the leading edge. They change the shape of the wing and in some instances allow flow between them and the wing. This shapes function by increasing drag and lift.

Pinions serve a similar function on birds where they can be maneuvered to create higher lift and drag on one side for rapid turns or tucked together for gliding flight.


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