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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: 'Cluster Flocking' Is No Energy Saver
22 June 2011 1:44 pm
When birds take to the air in a large group, they typically either fly in a V-formation or in a swarmlike cluster. Both have their benefits: the V-shape is aerodynamically efficient, saving geese and other birds energy during flight, while cluster flocking can help birds like pigeons guard against predators. But the cluster has one big disadvantage, according to a study published online today in Nature. When researchers followed 18 pigeons with GPS, they found that the birds gained neither an aerodynamic advantage nor added energy efficiency when flying in a cluster. In fact, the team believes that it takes pigeons more energy to fly in a flock than to fly solo. So why do they do it? In addition to predator protection, the researchers speculate that cluster flocking may help the birds navigate; a follow-the-crowd mentality.
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