Swift Wing Secrets

Swift wing secrets revealed, according to reports in ScienceNOW and news@nature 25 April 2007. Swifts are small, migratory birds that spend most of their lives in the air. They can eat, mate and sleep whilst flying, changing, or “morphing” their wing shape according to the speed and agility required. A group of scientists led by […]

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Spring Winged Aircraft

Spring winged aircraft described in ScienceNOW, 19 January 2005. Insects use two layers of muscle to flap their wings – as each layer contracts it stretches the other, which then contracts whilst the other layer relaxes and gets stretched ready for the next cycle. This process occurs too quickly to be controlled by nerve impulses, […]

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Seagulls Inspire Spy Planes

Seagulls inspire spy planes, according to an article in BBC News, 27 August 2005. Aerospace engineer Rick Lind and a team of researchers at the University of Florida are developing small unmanned aircraft that can manoeuvre through urban environments where they must avoid numerous obstacles, such as poles and trees, and fly through confined spaces […]

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Pterosaurs had Smart Wings and Big Brains

Pterosaurs had “smart wings” and big brains, according to reports in Nature vol 425, p950, 30 October 2003 and ScienceNOW 29 October 2003. Lawrence Witmar of Ohio University, and colleagues have studied computerised x-rays of pterosaur skulls and found they had large semi-circular canals and an enormous flocculus area in their brain. The semi-circular canals […]

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Pterosaur Wings Are Unique

Pterosaur wings are unique, according to articles in National Geographic News and Discovery News 4 Aug 2009, and ABC News in Science 5 Aug 2009. Fossil experts have conducted a detailed study of a fossil pterosaur named Jeholopterus ningchengensis, found in Inner Mongolia in 2000. The creature was approximately 30 cm long with a 35 […]

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How Moths Hover

How moths hover, described in reports in BBC News 18 April 2013 and Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB) doi: 10.1242/jeb.087494. The study of insect flight often involves experiments using tethered insects in a flight arena. Scientists have noted that these tethered insects tend to make exaggerated movements of their abdomens. Jonathan Dyhr, a biologist at […]

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How Flying Fish Fly

How flying fish fly, described in e! Science News 9 Sept 2010, and Journal of Experimental Biology (JEB) doi: 10.1242/jeb.050880 and ScienceShots, 10 Sept 2010. Flying fish have been observed to leap out of the water and glide for distances of up to 400m (1,300ft) at speeds of 70km/h. Haecheon Choi and Hyungmin Park, two […]

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How Bats Fly

How bats fly described in ScienceNOW and news@nature 10 May 2007 and BBC News 11 May 2007. Researchers at Lund University, Sweden have studied bats flying through a fine mist in a wind tunnel to find out how they fly. The research turned up some significant differences from the way birds fly. When birds fly, […]

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Gyroscope Control for Moths

Gyroscope control for moths reported in Science, vol. 315, p863, 9 February 2007. Sanjay Sane of the University of Seattle has been researching how moths maintain stability in flight when they are so light that any gentle breeze could blow them off course. He analysed high speed films of moths in flight and measured the […]

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Four-Winged Flapping

Secret of four-winged flapping revealed in an article in ScienceNOW, 14th May 2008. Dragonflies and damselflies have four wings, which they can move independently using a special system of muscles that other insects do not have. (Other four winged insects, such as butterflies, move their wings synchronously, as if they only had two wings.) Computer […]

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