Flying forward is hard enough, but flying nowhere, just hovering, is so much harder. Most bats and birds can manage the feat for only a few frantic seconds.
Hovering means losing a useful aerodynamic shortcut, says aerospace engineer and biologist David Lentink of Stanford University. As a bat or bird flies forward, its body movement sends air flowing around the wings and providing some...
The dainty veins gracing the wings of dragonflies and other insects are like fingerprints: Each wing displays a distinct pattern. A randomized mathematical process may help explain how certain thin filaments, called secondary veins, form these complex patterns, a new study finds.
Insect wings consist of two types of veins, both of which provide structural support (SN: 6/24/17, p. 5)....
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The Revolutionary Genius of PlantsStefano MancusoAtria Books, $30
More than 200 years ago, French botanist René Desfontaines instructed a student to monitor the behavior of Mimosa pudica plants as he drove them around Paris in a carriage. Mimosa pudica quickly closes its leaves when touched — presumably as a defense mechanism. Desfontaines was interested in the plants’ response to...
News in Brief
A stiff breeze is no match for a clump of honeybees, and now scientists are beginning to understand why.
When scouting out a new home, the bees tend to cluster together on tree branches or other surfaces, forming large, hanging clumps which help keep the insects safe from the elements. To keep the clump together, individual honeybees change their positions, fine-tuning the cluster’s...
Spiders may lack wings, but they aren’t confined to the ground. Under the right conditions, some spider species will climb to a high point, release silk strands to form a parachute, and float away on the breeze. Buoyed by air currents, they’ve been known to drift kilometers above Earth’s surface, and even to cross oceans to reach new habitats (SN: 2/4/17, p. 12).
Now, new research...