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The Buraq is an equine creature with some rather unique anatomical traits

It is around the size of a large donkey, and has a pair of wings attached to its thighs. Most notably are its legs, which can expand or contract to ridiculous lengths while still being strong enough to support a rider. It also has a human-like level of intelligence

What anatomy could realistically justify these features?

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    $\begingroup$ It should be noted that the contraction and expansion of the Buraq's leg served a practical purpose. The Buraq adjusted its legs size to go up or down a mountain. Assuming a reasonable 45 degrees max slope, the range of its "telescopic leg" could vary somewhere between 50% and 200%. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buraq To understand the pitfalls of horse-like animals climbing and descending steep slopes and devise a meaningful answer for Buraq's, prior study is advised, ref worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/222062/… $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Feb 13, 2022 at 1:48

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The Buraq is a Tetrapod

Despite appearing at first glance to have six limbs (four legs and two wings), the Buraq is a tetrapod. It has four "true" limbs and two accessory pseudo-limbs.

If the Buraq is derived from an avian, its path to its current state is relatively clear. It has two wings and two (front) legs, which it can fold tightly over its body or extend, using normal joints. It's quite light weight for its size, with hollow bones and a relatively gracile body under a layer of down-like feathers, with flight feathers on the wings. The wings have traditional musculature, including a robust sternum.

Its rump extends significantly behind its (front) legs, causing it to be a bit arse-heavy. In the air this is countered by a large, fanned out tail that carries more lifting load than most other birds. This reduces aerodynamic stability, which increases the Buraq's agility in the air, at the cost of it being a bit twitchy -- that big fanned tail is always moving.

On the rump are two protuberances of erectile tissue, evolved from hemipenes. In flight, they are fully deflated, retracted within the down covering of the body. On the ground, they are normally engorged to be roughly as long as the (front) legs, and can support the rear of the Buraq's body in this state. When fully engorged they are twice as long as the front legs at maximum extension.

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The Buraq has huge pecks and very scrawny legs as is the case with most birds.

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Case in point, most of a birds muscle mass is allocated to flight muscles which does two things. First, the centralized wing muscles allow for powerful downstrokes while reusing the same muscles to pull the wing up again. Second, the centralized wing muscles gives the bird a stable center of gravity.

Wings on an equine body:

The wings being placed further behind on the body means that their musculature and keel will be placed roughly in the middle of their torso. This would give them a somewhat fat appearance (despite it being all muscle).

Rest of the anatomy:

Birds have stiff torsos to allow for stable flight. Their inflexible body necessitates a long flexible neck. Horses in that regard have no problem as grazing required a long neck. The lungs will be identical to a birds for maximum efficiency. The bones should be hollow to store some extra oxygen for flight, they’ll be weaker as a result but the weight is spread evenly between four legs so it should be fine.

The Buraq needs a bird tail for stability!

The tail simply needs to have feathers for extra stability, as is the case with all birds.

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