Geometric Analysis Reveals How Birds Mastered Flight

A Harris’ hawk prepares to perch on the arm of the researcher Lydia France during experiments at the University of Oxford. Rob Bullingham

Great pic of a Harris.

How Birds Mastered Flight

landmark study published last March in Nature, however, has started to change that. For her doctoral research at the University of Michigan, Christina Harvey and her colleagues found that most birds can morph their wings mid-flight to flip back and forth between flying smoothly like a passenger plane and flying acrobatically like a fighter jet. Their work makes it clear that birds can completely alter both the aerodynamic characteristics that govern how air moves over their wings and the inertial characteristics of their bodies that determine how they tumble through the air to complete fast maneuvers.

These discoveries identified big, previously unknown factors contributing to birds’ aerobatic prowess and revealed some of the evolutionary pressures that made birds so proficient at flying. They are also helping to redraft the blueprints that future engineers might follow when attempting to design aircraft as maneuverable and adaptable as birds manage to be, seemingly with effortless grace but drawing on formidably fast physical and mental resources we are just beginning to appreciate.

I haven’t gotten into it yet but this article seems to have new data. I may have posted on it when it was current in March. Memory like a sieve. LOL

As usual, open in a new tab to embiggen.

Leave a Comment