Ill-Conceived Science

I have heard this one before.  It was once said that bumblebees were scientifically incapable of flight.  Today’s future-potential piece of mythical folklore is that the pterodactyl was also incapable of flight.  Katsufumi Sato has collected and assessed the data only to reveal nature’s secret to flight: “…the largest animal capable of soaring across the sky unaided could have weighed no more than 40kg (88lbs)…”  Pardon my layman intellect in the matter, but that statement seems a bit…constraining.  My meager interest in science has taught me, if nothing else, that nature cares little for restrictions.  Say that natural flight is limited to an object under 100lbs. and the next thing you know, a flying hippopotamus sores over your freshly washed car. I just mean to demonstrate that nature is not seemingly bound by our attempt to mathematically explain it all.  Or perhaps we are unaware of the math necessary to explain it.  Besides, the pterodactyl did potentially exist for 186 million years – surely it evolved great wings for a reason and got some fly time in there.  I also found great exception to this comment:

Prof Sato says animals heavier than 40kg would not be able to flap fast enough to stay aloft. This would explain why the wandering albatross weighs only 22 kg (46lbs).

I don’t think that Sato’s 40kg hypothesis is the reason the albatross weighs 22kg. I doubt Sato was consulted on the matter of albatross evolution when it came to weight considerations.

It’s just a wild scientific hypothesis, but it irritates me for some reason. Perhaps because the pterodactyl has always been somewhat of a hero to me – it’s the biggest creature ever to have ruled the skies and the idea of it amazes and frightens me simultaneously. Don’t go messing with my heroes, it’s just not cool!


  1. Maybe the pterodactyl glided after leaping off cliffs. Who knows? But usually when a bird or other creature is unable to fly, it just has itty-bitty rudimentary wings (See Dodo and penquins). It seems to me the pterodactyl had HUGE wings; hence, it probably flew. There. That’s my scientific logic at work.
    (I made and “A” in logic in college, after all.)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *