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Flying animals and gravity?
Topic Started: Jul 5 2017, 08:40 AM (916 Views)
PortentosaMan
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What changes in wing size will happen when a planet have lower or higher gravity?
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Flisch
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Gravity is not really all that important for wing size (and body size in general). The bigger factor is atmospheric density. Remember, in a vacuum, a feather and a coin fall at the same speed.

Gravity is more important about lifting off and even more so for landing. Subsequently, gravity quite possibly influences how easy it is for large flying organisms to evolve flight. On a low grav world, animals of all sizes can take to the air quite comfortably (if atmospheric density is conductive for flight that is) while on high grav worlds, flight will likely be evolved by smaller insect-sized organisms which then radiate into larger niches. Technically, gravity affects how many groups of unrelated fliers exist, the spread of flight so to say, while atmospheric density moves the body size limit for flying organisms.

As an aside, passive drifting, like airborne seed dispersal and 'parachuting baby spiders' is not informed by gravity at all but solely by atmospheric density.
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LittleLazyLass
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I imagine it'd be wing anatomy rather than wing size that'd be different on alien planets. All groups of flying organisms have pretty radically different wings, and all evolved flight in different ways, so it'd be surprising if there wasn't even more diversity among alien wings.
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Jörmungandr
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How can once take a guess at the right amount of wing needed to lift an animal up into the air?
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LittleLazyLass
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Math?
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Jörmungandr
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Jul 5 2017, 03:41 PM
Math?
Oh no... I was hoping there were and easier way. Welp, guess I'll have to do math
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"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
"There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars..."
"If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere."
"My opinions are formed from a perfect blend of science and morality and as such I am an unassailable bastion of absolute truth. All opinions are subjective but mine are objectively the least subjective."
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Sigmund Nastrazzurro
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Perhaps I can help a bit. I once wrote a post on scaling animals and the effects on bone diameter. The effects of scaling on wing area are very similar and were worked out in the messages below the post.

http://planetfuraha.blogspot.nl/2010/06/scaling-or-size-matters-but-so-does.html

Essentially, if you increase the length, width and height of the body of your flying animal by a factor x, you should increase the wing by a larger factor: x to the power of 1.5. If you do that, the lift to weight ratio will be the same (not exactly because the wing increases in mass as wel, but never mind).

But your question was about changing gravity. Weight increases linearly with the gravity constant. So if you double gravity, you will double weight, and you will also have to double lift. There are various ways to do so:
- double atmospheric density
- make the animal fly faster
- change wing area: its has to double, so the length, width and height of the wing have to increase by the square root of 2, about 1.4

I hope this helps. I could write a proper post on the subject of flight, taking scaling, gravity and atmospheric density into consideration. should I?
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PortentosaMan
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[
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]I think you should do it!
Edited by PortentosaMan, Aug 14 2017, 01:07 PM.
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Akurian452
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@ Sigmund Nastrazzurro: Do the same rules apply to gliding animals as well?
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Sigmund Nastrazzurro
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I had a day off, for once did not feel like painting, it was raining a lot and so I sat down and wrote a post on 'flying animals or the art of weight lifting'. It needs some editing, so I will post it in a day or two; there may be other posts on the subject in the future.
And yes, the rules apply to gliding animals too.
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Sigmund Nastrazzurro
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Done: http://planetfuraha.blogspot.nl/2017/08/flying-animals-or-true-weight-lifting.html
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Empyreon
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Are you plausible?

A masterwork, as usual. :)
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food for thought
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