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Some of my readers will probably infer from the foregoing, that the figure-of-8 curves formed along the anterior and posterior margins of the pinions are not necessary to flight, since the tips and posterior margins of the wings may be removed without destroying it. To such I reply, that the wings are flexible, elastic, and composed of a congeries of curved surfaces, and that so long as a portion of them remains, they form, or tend to form, figure-of-8 curves in every direction.
Captain F. W. Hutton, in a recent paper “On the Flight of Birds” (Ibis, April 1872), refers to some of the experiments detailed above, and endeavours to frame a theory of flight, which differs in some respects from my own. His remarks are singularly inappropriate, and illustrate in a forcible manner the old adage, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” If Captain Hutton had taken the trouble to look into my memoir “ On the Physiology of Wings,” communicated to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, on the 2d of August 1870,1 fifteen months before his own paper was written, there is reason to believe he would have arrived at very different conclusions. Assuredly he would not have ventured to make the rash statements he has made, the more especially as he attempts to controvert my views, which are based upon anatomical research and experiment, without making any dissections or experiments of his own.
The Wing area decreases as the Size and Weight of the Volant Animal increases.—While, as explained in the last section, no definite relation exists between the weight of a flying animal and the size of its flying surfaces, there being, as stated, heavy bodied and small-winged insects, bats, and birds, and the converse; and while, as I have shown by experiment, flight is possible within a wide range, the wings being, as a rule, in excess of what are required for the purposes of flight; still it appears, from the researches of M. de Lucy, that there is a general law, to the effect that the larger the volant animal the smaller by comparison are its flying surfaces. The existence of such a law is very encouraging as far as artificial
1 « On the Physiology of Wings, being an Analysis of the Movements by which Flight is produced in the Insect, Bat, and Bird.”—Trans. Roy. Soc. of Edinburgh, vol. xxvi.
flight is concerned, for it shows that the flying surfaces of a large, heavy, powerful flying machine will be comparatively small, and consequently comparatively compact and strong. This is a point of very considerable importance, as the object desiderated in a flying machine is elevating capacity.
M. de Lucy has tabulated his results, which I subjoin :1—
“It is easy, by aid of this table, to follow the order, always decreasing, of the surfaces, in proportion as the winged animal increases in size and weight. Thus, in comparing the insects with one another, we find that the gnat, which weighs 460 times less than the stag-beetle, has fourteen times more of surface. The lady-bird weighs 150 times less than the stag-beetle, and possesses five times more of surface. It is the same with the birds. The sparrow weighs about ten times less than the pigeon, and has twice as inuch surface. The pigeon weighs about eight times less than the stork, and has twice as much surface. The sparrow weighs 339 times less than the Australian crane, and possesses seven times more surface. If now we compare the insects and the birds, the gradation will become even much more striking. The gnat, for example, weighs 97,000 times
1 “On the Flight of Birds, of Bats, and of Insects, in reference to the subject of Aërial Locomotion,” by M. de Lucy, Paris.
lent birds one knows thout an eleventhe ntimetres (139e us a ongest and most of all travellinallatorial anim
less than the pigeon, and has forty times more surface ; it weighs 3,000,000 times less than the crane of Australia, and possesses 149 times more of surface than this latter, the weight of which is about 9 kilogrammes 500 grammes (25 lbs. 5 oz. 9 dwt. troy, 20 lbs. 15 oz. 27 dr. avoirdupois).
The Australian crane is the heaviest bird that I have weighed. It is that which has the smallest amount of surface, for, referred to the kilogramme, it does not give us a surface of more than 899 square centimetres (139 square inches), that is to say about an eleventh part of a square metre. But every one knows that these grallatorial animals are excellent birds of flight. Of all travelling birds they undertake the longest and most remote journeys. They are, in addition, the eagle excepted, the birds which elevate themselves the highest, and the flight of which is the longest maintained.”l
Strictly in accordance with the foregoing, are my own measurements of the gannet and heron. The following details of weight, measurement, etc., of the gannet were supplied by an adult specimen which I dissected during the winter of 1869. Entire weight, 7 lbs. (minus 3 ounces); length of body from tip of bill to tip of tail, three feet four inches; head and neck, one foot three inches; tail, twelve inches; trunk, thirteen inches; girth of trunk, eighteen inches; expanse of wing from tip to tip across body, six feet; widest portion of wing across primary feathers, six inches; across secondaries, seven inches; across tertiaries, eight inches. Each wing, when carefully measured and squared, gave an area of 194 square inches. The wings of the gannet, therefore, furnish a supporting area of three feet three inches square. As the bird weighs close upon 7 lbs., this gives something like thirteen square inches of wing for every 361 ounces of body, i.e. one foot one square inch of wing for every 2 lbs. 4} oz. of body.
The heron, a specimen of which I dissected at the same time, gave a very different result, as the subjoined particulars will show. Weight of body, 3 lbs. 3 ounces ; length of body from tip of bill to tip of tail, three feet four inches; head and neck, two feet; tail, seven inches; trunk, nine inches; girth
• M. de Lucy, op. cit.
of body, twelve inches; expanse of wing from tip to tip across the body, five feet nine inches; widest portion of wing across primary and tertiary feathers, eleven inches ; across secondary feathers, twelve inches.
Each wing, when carefully measured and squared, gave an área of twenty-six square inches. The wings of the heron, consequently, furnish a supporting area of four feet four inches square. As the bird only weighs 3 lbs. 3 ounces, this gives something like twenty-six square inches of wing for every 252 ounces of bird, or one foot 54 inches square for every 1 lb. 1 ounce of body.
In the gannet there is only one foot one square inch of wing for every 2 lbs. 4} ounces of body. The gannet has,' consequently, less than half of the wing area of the heron. The gannet's wings are, however, long narrow wings (those of the heron are broad), which extend transversely across the body; and these are found to be the most powerful—the wings of the albatross—which measure fourteen feet from tip to tip (and only one foot across), elevating 18 lbs. without difficulty. If the wings of the gannet, which have a superficial area of three feet three inches square, are capable of elevating 7 lbs., while the wings of the heron, which have a superficial area of four feet four inches, can only elevate 3 lbs., it is evident (seeing the wings of both are twisted levers, and formed upon a common type) that the gannet's wings must be vibrated with greater energy than the heron's wings; and this is actually the case. The heron's wings, as I have ascertained from observation, make 60 down and 60 up strokes every minute ; whereas the wings of the gannet, when the bird is flying in a straight line to or from its fishing-ground, make close upon 150 up and 150 down strokes during the same period. The wings of the divers, and other short-winged, heavy-bodied birds, are urged at a much higher speed, so that comparatively small wings can be made to elevate a comparatively heavy body, if the speed only be increased sufficiently. Flight, therefore, as already indicated, is a ques
1 The grebes among birds, and the beetles among insects, furnish examples where small wings, made to vibrate at high speeds, are capable of elevating great weights.
tion of power, speed, and small surfaces versus weight. Elaborate measurements of wing, area, and minute calculations of speed, can consequently only determine the minimum of wing for elevating the maximum of weight-flight being attainable within a comparatively wide range.
Wings, their Form, etc.; all Wings Screus, structurally and functionally.—Wings vary considerably as to their general contour; some being falcated or scythe-like, some oblong, some rounded or circular, some lanceolate, and some linear.
All wings are constructed upon a common type. They are in every instance carefully graduated, the wing tapering
a Fig. 61.-Right wing of the Kestrel, drawn from the specimen, while being held against the light. Shows how the primary (6), secondary (a), and tertiary (c) feathers overlap and buttress or support each other in every direction. Each set of feathers has its coverts and subcoverts, the wing being conical from within outwards, and from before backwards. d, e, f Anterior or thick margin of wing. b, a, c Posterior or thin margin. The wing of the kestrel is intermediate as regards form, it being neither rounded as in the partridge (fig. 96, p. 176), nor ribbon-shaped as in the albatross (fig. 62), nor pointed as in the swallow. The feathers of the kestrel's wing are unusually symmetrical and strong. Compare with figs. 92, 94, and 96, pp. 174, 175, and
176.-Original. from the root towards the tip, and from the anterior margin in the direction of the posterior margin. They are of a generally triangular form, and twisted upon themselves in the direction of their length, to form a helix or screw. They are convex above and concave below, and more or less flexible and elastic throughout, the elasticity being greatest at the tip and along the posterior margin. They are also moveable in all their parts. Figs. 61, 62, 63 (p. 138), 59 and 60 (p. 126), 96 and 97 (p. 176), represent typical bird wings; figs. 17 (p. 36), 94 and 95 (p. 175), typical bat wings; and figs. 57 and 58 (p. 125), 89 and 90 (p. 171), 91 (p. 172), 92 and 93 (p. 174), typical insect wings.
1 « The wing is short, broad, convex, and rounded in grouse, partridges, and other rasores; long, broad, straight, and pointed in most pigeons. In the peregrine falcon it is acuminate, the second quill being longest, and the first