ON THE WING: INSECTS, PTEROSAURS, BIRDS, BATS AND THE EVOLUTION OF ANIMAL FLIGHT. By David E. Alexander. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 2015: 224 pages, 43 illustrations. ISBN: 978-0-1999-9677-3. $29.95 (hardcover), $ 21.99 (digital edition)

This essay by a notable animal aerodynamicist provides an accessible commentary on general principles of flight in animals, ranging from insects to the varied vertebrate groups that took to the air with powered flight. Although innumerable animals have taken to the air, the book concentrates on four groups (insects, pterosaurs, birds, and bats) that developed powered flight, and searches for biomechanical and aerodynamic principles common to all. Advantages of this locomotor method include speed, economical travel, large foraging ranges, escape from predators, predation itself, and of course, migration. Following an introductory section, the book includes chapters on: How to fly?, Gliding animals, Insects, Birds, Bats, Pterosaurs, and Pedestrians...

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