Latest Press Releases
09/11/2011: Hoverflies shift gear to turn corners
A car changes gear to accelerate or climb a hill; flies are thought to use an analogous “gear” mechanism to adjust their wing motions. Unfortunately, the tiny mechanical parts that are involved cannot be observed directly, so it is difficult to know how the gears are actually used in flight. Now, scientists at Oxford University have shown that a flap at the base of the wing is directly connected to the gear mechanism, and flips up when the fly changes gear. High-speed video analyses show the flies changing gear as they turn or accelerate around a flight arena.
For more information, please email Dr Simon Walker or telephone +44 (0)1865 271223.
Notes for editors:
- A report of the research, ‘Operation of the alula as an indicator of gear change in hoverflies’, is published online in Journal of the Royal Society: Interface.
- The research was undertaken by Dr Simon Walker, Professor Adrian Thomas and Dr Graham Taylor of the Oxford Animal Flight Group, part of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford.
- The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. 204513.