While examining the flight behavior of flesh flies, Cornell University entomologists have discovered that males of the species (Sarcophagidae: Neobellieria bullata ) -- traveling at very high speed, soaring in sexual pursuit and swiveling their heads like gun turrets -- literally can lose sight of a target female. Yet the males compensate for the momentary loss of vision and still catch up to mate.
A detailed explanation of this quirk in vision physiology and neurological processing could help military and aerospace engineers to build aircraft and artillery that have improved detection of evasive targets.
"This fly has a very small brain, but it moves at relatively fast speeds, over 2 meters per second. The male flesh fly is very successful at chasing and catching the female even without an elaborate, high-powered onboard computer. Our study is the first to determine that chasers, indeed, radically move their heads while in pursuit, which means that they may be aiming the high-resolution part of their eye at the female," said Cole Gilbert, Cornell University professor of entomology. He is presenting this research today Nov. 10, at the Society for Neuroscience meeting at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Gilberts poster presentation is titled "View from the cockpit of a fly: visual guidance of sexual aerial pursuit in male flesh flies."
Blaine P. Friedlander Jr. | Cornell News
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