High-speed time-lapse photos of a fruit fly banking away from a shadow threat coming from the bottom right and outside of the frame. Photograph credit: F. Muijres, University of Washington
Last week's Sci-Light was about the evolutionary development of Zebra stripes. To recap, Zebra stripes have evolved as a response to annoying biting flies. And just like Zebra's, we have developed our own technology to deter flies. For those of us who choose swatting away flies, have you ever been curious how a fly is able to dodge our efforts so well? Well you are not the only one, a bioengineer of Washington University was sci-curious too! Dr. Michael Dickinson has detailed the aerial movements flies employ to avoid our, and other animals, swatting. The characterized agile fly movements were published on April 10th in a paper entitled Flies Evade Looming Targets by Executing Rapid Visually Directed Banked Turns.
By recording Drosophila hydei (fruit flies) movements with a high speed camera capable of capturing 7,500 frames per second, Dickinson and his team of scientists could understand the 'blink of an eye' maneuvers these flies use in flight. To discover what Dickinson observed read about his research in the National Geographic article Mystery Solved: Why Flies Are So Hard to Swat.
After that article, click the next link and discover what else you can learn!