Releasing the Truth

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How the flies fly- Video from TED website

From: TED

Michael Dickinson explains how the flies are capable of flying, a very intriguing subject; see the video below, audio in English with subtitles in varied idioms!


These annoying insects are an amazing example of biological engineering! They’re capable of some high-speed aeronautic manoeuvres that have long boggled the minds of aircraft designers and engineers. If a male fly chasing a potential mate sees her change course ever so slightly, he will respond with an appropriate change of his own in just 30 milliseconds!

It has long been known that the amazing stability of flies as they zip around has a lot to do with the two tiny club-shaped ‘balancing organs’ they have, called halteres. Some insects have four wings, while others, like the so-called ‘true flies’, have two (hence their ordinal name Diptera).

They have long been known for their function as flight stabilizers, like gyroscopes on airplanes that prevent excessive roll, pitch or yaw. Part of the way this works is that the halteres mostly beat in antiphase to the actual wings. But since such a stabilizing function would tend to make the fly keep flying straight, how does it manage to ‘disable’ this gyroscopic function in order to change course so quickly?

Researcher Dr Michael Dickinson of the University of California at Berkeley, along with a number of colleagues, long knew that flies will perform intricate flight manoeuvres in response to visual stimuli (a fly swatter coming down on them, for instance!). Sophisticated experiments in which flies were tethered in little corsets had shown that images perceived by the fly’s eye-brain system would cause automatic changes in wing activity. Yet a mystery remained, in that for years no one had been able to find evidence of any connecting nerve fibres between the brain and the muscles that controlled the wings.

The breakthrough began when Dickinson was reviewing a much earlier paper that described in great detail some very intricate musculature controlling the halteres. His team then performed more experiments which showed that visual cues while flying did not affect the wing muscles, but significantly affected the muscles controlling the halteres. This suggests that visual information flows directly from the eye/brain to the halteres, not the wings.

Read the full article here:


God bless you all.

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