Outdoors just for kids: Fruit flies can maneuver like fighter jets

2014-04-17T00:00:00Z 2014-04-17T14:27:04Z Outdoors just for kids: Fruit flies can maneuver like fighter jets The Billings Gazette

Scientists spend a lot of time looking at fruit flies.

There are several reasons They are so small that they are cheap to raise and keep in a laboratory compared to mice or rats. Another reason is that they share about 75 percent of the genes that cause disease in humans, so scientists can learn about human genetics by studying fruit flies. Pretty crazy, huh?

It turns out though, that fruit flies are pretty interesting for another reason. They are really good fliers. When scared, they can make fast turns and mid-air rolls and fly almost upside down just like our most advanced military fighter jets. Yet fruit flies are about the size of a sesame seed on your hamburger bun. Its brain is about the size of a grain of salt.

The flies can change their direction in less than one one-hundredth of a second, 50 times faster than you can blink your eye.

Fruit flies fly by beating their wings 200 times in a second.

Scientists found the fruit fly’s amazing flying ability by using cameras that can shoot 7,500 photographs each second, showing them the wing and body motion of fruit flies in the air. When you go to the movies, those films have been shot at about 24 frames per second – a big difference.

Excited by what they have discovered, scientists now want to know how the fly’s tiny brain and muscles control such remarkably fast and difficult feats of flight.

– Brett French

Gazette Outdoors editor

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Brett French

Outdoors editor for the Billings Gazette.

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