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changy 3Now for something really far beyond the right side of 50 – specifically to the right side of 125 million. Yes, we are talking about an extinct species – the Changyuraptor. It puts getting old into perspective.

About 125 million years ago, before birds were birds, there existed dinosaurs with aerodynamic capacity. They are called microraptors, and in northeast China, dinosaur hunters have discovered the remains of a four-foot, nine-pound microraptor. The new species has been baptized Changyuraptor.

Unlike scaly dinosaurs, like Tyrannosaurus rex, “Changy” was covered in feathers from head to hind legs. But who knows if they were soft and downy; drab or colorful. The thing that makes “Changy” special, besides its wings and grand size, given that most microraptors weigh in at two pounds, was its tail. The paleo pundits calculate that the 30cm tail, (roughly 11 inches) was the control panel. It drove the up-and-down pitch of the animal, and made it possible for this pre-bird of prey to swoop down on its victims without crash landing.

So now we have a little more info about early avian flight, which means a little more understanding about how birds came to be, which ultimately led to Leonardo Da Vinci’s vision of a flying machine, and then Wilbur and Orville Wright’s powered airplane, up to today’s annoying experiences of flying commercial flights.

Anyway you look at it, flying is connected by six degrees of separation.