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I'm designing an animal that's kind of like a draco lizard that has evolved to be semi-bipedal like a theropod but is still maintaining its ability to glide. On the real draco, the wings are elongated ribs on the rear part of the ribcage, so I try to maintain that anatomy, and the result is this: It can fold its wings when not in use.

It can fold its wings when not in use. It has a fin on its tail for yaw control

It has a fin on its tail for yaw control. It can move its wing to act more like a parachute

It can move its wing to act more like a parachute.

I imagine this animal as a sort of ambush predator that can either glide from a tall tree to a prey on the ground some distance away, or drop down from a tree to a prey below using its wings like a parachute. The question is, could its wings work in either scenario? If not, what should I change to make it work?

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  • $\begingroup$ one downside because it is circular it will be an unsteerable glide. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 6, 2023 at 0:26

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No

There's too much weight/mass forward of the wings. From a science point of view, the creature would very accurately hit the ground in a non-ballistic manner.

But...

But does this matter? I like the look of the creature. Maybe the tail is much more dense with short vertibrae, flexible cartilege, and dense muscles having evolved as a constricting weapon (and it's very useful for hanging on at hard-to-reach locations). This could rationalize the distribution of mass to allow for glide. The goal is to justify the glide by creating at least as much mass behind the leading edge of the wings as in front of it.

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  • $\begingroup$ What if there's extra lifting surface on the front of the body? $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2023 at 3:38
  • $\begingroup$ @MArifRahmanWinandar From a practical perspective, you need a solution that at least mimics that of flying squirrels. You could disassociate the wings from the legs, but that's not evolutionarily viable as the bones of the wings become to brittle and easily damaged by minor leverage. If you're looking for "realism," I'm afraid you're basically stuck with how terrestrial nature came up with the ability. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 6, 2023 at 3:44
  • $\begingroup$ The center of mass needs to be aligned with the geometric center of the surface area of the wings, not the leading edge. This wing would mostly just act as fletching. $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2023 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertRapplean You're right, but I'm shooting for suspension of disbelief, not scientific accuracy. (Hence my "no" answer.) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 6, 2023 at 19:13
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Anything light enough can glide a bit. That's why you get gliding frogs and snakes.

So, it depends on how big they are.


Also, the gravity could be weaker on the planet, making it easier to glide.

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