While in Hawaii, I took a little cruise to the Captain Cook memorial to do a little snorkeling. On the way, I got to see some flying fish, tiny little fish whose ray-fins have been elongated to allow flight for a certain period in the air. I had never seen these fish before, but was amazed as I watched one fish fly seven feet in the air, and change directions slightly mid-air. Most impressive. When I got home, I also had the experience of watching one of my most favorite vertebrate flyers, the hummingbird. I have purposely planted flowers that bloom in the early fall, that provide nectar to hummers as they fly south. Usually, my yard is dominated early by black-chins, who are displaced in mid to late July by the more aggressive broad-tails. However, the broad-tails head south quickly with the first cold spell, and I usually see migrants such as a few rufous, black-chins and an occasional calliope. The calliope's are the smallest of these, but are extremely accrobatic. Amazing creatures, I was blessed to see on tonight as I barbecued hamburgers for my family, feeding from one of my salvia lemmonii plants.
Evolution is a wonderful thing. The fins, that evolved in such a way that allows a flying fish to escape predators by flying for 50-100 yards have evolved into wings that move so fast with the hummingbirds, we are powerless to see the details of their feathers. Ultimately, those fins evolved into limbs that allowed vertebrates to walk on land, grasp prey, and in our case, evolve an opposable thumb and be able to create complex tools, including the computer upon which I am typing.
These flying vertebrates are indeed impressive. Even those who have created wings with tools, not just flew with fins in all their adaptations.