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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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28 November 2011 3:52 pm
City pigeons may be jeered as flying rats, but aloft they're more like helicopters. That's the upshot of a new study of pigeons making aerial turns. The investigators netted common pigeons, Columba livia, in a parking garage, and aimed high-speed cameras at them as they slowly turned a corner. From the videos, the researchers then calculated the aerodynamic forces the birds produced to keep themselves aloft and moving. Unlike a rocket that simply swivels its jets, a pigeon doesn't turn by redirecting the forces it generates relative to its body. Instead, the bird realigns those forces by rotating its entire body, primarily by tipping its wings into the turn. A helicopter uses the same tipping strategy, lowering its nose to accelerate forward, for example. The study, posted today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also found that the turning pigeon's upstroke generates lift comparable to that produced by that super-aerialist the hummingbird—not bad for a laughingstock of the avian world.
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