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Shoulder Ligament A Linchpin In The Evolution Of Flight

Brown and Harvard scientists have learned that a single ligament at the shoulder joint stabilizes the wings of birds during flight. In an advanced online publication of Nature, they explain how this tough bit of tissue evolved to become a linchpin for today’s fliers.

Using computer modeling, treadmills and the fossil record, researchers have shown that the acrocoracohumeral ligament (AHL), a short band of tissue that connects the humerus to the shoulder joint in birds, was a critical element in the evolution of flight. (Image: David Baier/Brown University)Ads by Google Advertise on this site

“How animals got off the ground – how limbs became wings – is a fascinating question,” said team leader David Baier, a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown. “What we learned here is that, in the evolutionary line to birds, a single ligament played an increasingly important role in flight.” ... 081421.htm


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