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Nature in Slow-Motion Flight
January 16, 2012 1:57 PM   Subscribe

High Speed Animal Flight Videos Show Hidden Aerial World. The Dutch Program Vilegkunstenaars (Flight Artists) sent high-speed video tools to amateurs around the world with the challenge: Capture nature in flight. They then picked the best from the over 2,400 slow-motion clips that were uploaded.

Here are the highlights:

Dueling Sparrows
Somersaulting Fly
Great Tit Dancing in Air
Bee-to-Bumblebee Collision
Buzzing Flight
Geese Flying Upside Down
Clumsy Longhorn Beetle
Angelic Dove

The full list is here.
posted by quin (11 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
New name for my imaginary pub: The Whiffling Goose
posted by Kabanos at 2:03 PM on January 16, 2012


Well, suffice to say "Great Tit Dancing in Air" was not quite the video I'd hoped.
posted by hincandenza at 2:41 PM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fly doing a somersault was amazing!
posted by molecicco at 2:41 PM on January 16, 2012


That Sparrow is a huge a-hole.
Huge.

(strangely enough, it doesn't interfere with the hilariousness of it's behavior...)
posted by djrock3k at 3:27 PM on January 16, 2012


I have those exact same feeders in my backyard. Sparrows are mean to each other for sure. One is always kicking another one off the pegs.
posted by Malice at 3:42 PM on January 16, 2012


If you enjoyed those, don't miss Winged Migration.
posted by fairmettle at 3:47 PM on January 16, 2012


For the "fly making a somersault", that's actually a common startle response in (many) flies. All humans know the "oh fuck that's hot" response, in which accidentally touching a hot pan makes your whole arm jolt backwards involuntarily. It's an ancient neural circuit that gets routed straight from your heat-sensing nerves to your muscle twitch nerves via the spinal column without consulting the brain; by the time your brain has been informed and passed the signal to your consciousness, your arm is already completing its movement.

Same thing for the flies. If the light level suddenly drops -- normally a a shadow cast by something trying to swat it -- a signal is immediately and automatically routed to its huge thigh/hip muscles, kicking it up, backwards and over. Just like humans, this automatic response outpaces the fly's brain such that -- insofar as a fly can be said to "know" anything -- the first thing that a fly knows about someone trying to swat it is that it's already upside down, in the dark, three body lengths above the ground and starting to plummet. Flies must have a hell of a stressful life.

Their mating process is fantastic, though. A male approaches his chosen female and struts a bit, making sure that she can see him looking at her. Then he "sings" to her, beating his wings at varying frequency. If she doesn't rebuff him then, he'll follow her around for a little while, trying to get close and nuzzle up against her. If she's still acting keen, he may then try to proceed to the genital licking. Many suitors will try to get too far too soon and be knocked back to just nuzzling, or even all the way back to singing. But even when he's got this far, only if she's satisfied with his skills and attention in that department will she spread her wings and allow copulation. Never again doubt that studying fruit flies can teach us valuable lessons about about humans. Oh, and fruit fly geneticists being the type of people that they invariably are, there are loads of carefully annotated videos of the whole process on youtube.
posted by metaBugs at 4:17 PM on January 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Why does the goose fly upside down?
posted by JujuB at 4:32 PM on January 16, 2012


Thank you some of these are great.
posted by smoke at 5:17 PM on January 16, 2012


Wow metaBugs, I'm gonna follow YOU around.
posted by pajamazon at 9:17 PM on January 16, 2012


That Sparrow is a huge a-hole. Huge.

I can't help but think how the little dudes are the great^10000000th grandchildren of dinosaurs when I see footage like that.
posted by aught at 1:03 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


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