Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 3 – 2006

Margot Gerritsen, Energy Resources Engineering
Scott Delp, Bionegineering
Ilan Kroo, Aeronautics and Astronautics
Jonathan Payne, Geological and Environmental Sciences

Since the discovery of the first fossil remains centuries ago, man has been fascinated by the existence of pterosaurs, arguably the most efficient and effective flyers ever to inhabit our planet. These agile flyers exploited their membrane wings in a sophisticated manner for flight control and propulsion. In this project, aeronautical engineers, paleontologists, and biomechanists work together to discover the mechanisms that enabled pterosaur flight. The team will study the bone and muscle structure, joint movements, and wing membrane properties to create a comprehensive simulation of pterosaur flight. As our understanding grows we may well be able to integrate characteristics of these intriguing flyers into future aircraft designs.