Anyone who has tried to swat a fly knows how difficult the task can be. With lightning-fast reactions, these insects evade most attempts to catch them.
Scientists have discovered that one type of fly, the fruit fly, is able to make turns similar to those made by fighter jets, but in a fraction of a second. At birth, “they can fly like an ace,” says Professor Michael Dickinson. “It’s like putting a newborn baby in the cockpit of a fighter aircraft and it knowing what to do.”
Researchers filmed the flies’ aerobatics and found that they flap their wings 200 times per second. Yet, a single wingbeat is sufficient to reorient their bodies and begin an escape.
And what about response time? Researchers found that these flies can react to a threat 50 times faster than a human can blink. “The fly performs a very sophisticated calculation, in a very short amount of time, to determine where the danger lies and exactly how to bank for the best escape,” explains Dickinson.
Just how the fruit fly’s tiny brain can do this is an engineering mystery that researchers want to solve.
What do you think? Did the fruit fly’s aerobatic ability evolve? Or was it designed?