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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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Video: Why Fly When You Can Flap?
23 June 2011 10:24 am
If you've ever seen a pigeon encounter a sharply inclined tree branch or other steep obstacle, you've probably also seen it "flap run." Rather than fly over these barriers, pigeons—and most other birds—climb up them while fluttering their wings, a behavior scientists refer to as "wing-assisted incline running." To figure out why birds do this, researchers implanted sensors in the wing and primary flight muscles of three pigeons, and had them traverse steep inclines in the lab. Flap running was over 10 times more energy efficient than flying, the team reports online today in The Journal of Experimental Biology, creating just enough aerodynamic force to push the birds' bodies upward while also supporting some of their body weight. In addition to solving the mystery of flap running, the findings may shed light on the evolution of flight in the ancestors of birds, dinosaurs.
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*This item has been corrected. Flap running was over 10 times more efficient than flying, not 10% more energy efficient.