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Video Proof: Fruit Flies Maneuver Just Like Fighter Pilots

High-speed photography shows the bugs evading their enemies using banked turns.

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Video: F Muijres, University of Washington

In a paper published in this week’s Science, Florian Muijres and his colleagues at the University of Washington show that fruit flies use the same techniques to evade their enemies as fighter pilots do in combat. “Although they have been described as swimming through the air, tiny flies actually roll their bodies just like aircraft in a banked turn to maneuver away from impending threats,” said Michael Dickinson, one of the paper’s co-authors, in a press release. 

Using high-speed video cameras, the researchers recorded a fly’s response to a simulated predator. The paper notes, “Once they detected the looming threat, flies altered their flight path in a remarkably fast and accurate manner.... [F]lies direct themselves away from the stimulus by quickly banking, and not yawing, their bodies. In addition, after changing their flight course, the animals quickly rotate back to attain a horizontal attitude and accelerate away from the looming threat.” 

See above for video proof.

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