F. Muijres, University of Washington
Time-lapse images from a high-speed video shows how a fruit fly startled by a looming shadow (off camera at the bottom right) performs a rapid roll to bank away from the threat.
Don't swat those fruit flies! They're amazing!
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
Here's a sesame-seed-sized fruit fly that's faster than the speediest Top Gun pilot! Drosophila hydei can alter course in less than one-hundredth of a second. That's fifty times faster than we blink!
Meet Michael Dickinson from the University of Washington. He says these flies flap their wings about 200 times a second. And yet, in the time it takes to flap just once, the tiny jet-like fliers can roll, almost upside down at times, to escape trouble.
To see these aerial acrobatics, Dickinson's team synchronized three cameras shooting 7,500 hundred frames a second. Then they filmed the flies avoiding threatening shadows in a special flight arena.
Later, the researchers watched in slow-motion detail as the teeny pilots performed a highly sophisticated calculation of danger – and banked to avoid it – in less than a split second.
Now the scientists want to learn how the fly's brain and muscles make that maneuver happen.
And you can learn a lot more, too! Or maybe just throw out those old bananas.
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