London, March 31: The mechanism in the flight of the flies is no longer a mystery as a study has discovered how exactly a fly waves its way through the air.
Flies essentially turn much the way a car does.
“The fly effectively ‘brakes’ on one side by diverting excess power into a steering muscle specialised to absorb mechanical energy,” explained Graham Taylor, a professor at Oxford University.
The researchers used a new 3D, X-ray scanning technique to offer a virtual glimpse at the inner workings of the flight motor of a tiny blowfly.
“The key question is how the fly’s tiny steering muscles, which make up less than three percent of its total flight muscle mass, influence the output of the much larger muscles that power its flight,” a report in the Washington Post quoted Taylor as saying.
A blowfly can beat its wings 50 times in the time that it takes a human to blink, the study found.
The hidden steering muscles contain each movement in the flight of the flies as the wings contain no muscles.
To record the hidden movements, English and Swiss researchers spun the flies around inside a laboratory.
The researchers captured X-ray images of their flight muscles in action as the insects reacted to being spun around by trying to turn and fly the opposite direction.
The researchers hope the findings ultimately lead to the development of new micro air vehicles and other micromechanical devices.
The study appeared in the journal PLOS Biology.