Wild Things: Life as We Know It

Flight of the hummingbird, termite cloning and the rise of the octopus

(Kenji Matsuura)


Hummingbird in flight
(Maura McCarthy)
How do birds and flying insects control a turn? According to high-speed video studies of seven species by the university of Delaware and North Carolina, they flap, say, the right wing more vigorously than the other to start a left turn—then flap both symmetrically to straighten out. Surprisingly, the technique is the same for creatures from fruit flies and moths to hummingbirds and cockatoos.

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