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The Military Science

Fruit Flies, Fighter Jets Use Similar Evasive Tactics When Attacked 65

vinces99 writes: "When startled by predators, tiny fruit flies respond like fighter jets – employing screaming-fast banked turns to evade attacks. Researchers at the University of Washington used an array of high-speed video cameras operating at 7,500 frames a second to capture the wing and body motion of flies after they encountered a looming image of an approaching predator (abstract). 'We discovered that fruit flies alter course in less than one one-hundredth of a second, 50 times faster than we blink our eyes, and which is faster than we ever imagined.' In the midst of a banked turn, the flies can roll on their sides 90 degrees or more, almost flying upside down at times, said Florian Muijres, a UW postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the paper. 'These flies normally flap their wings 200 times a second and, in almost a single wing beat, the animal can reorient its body to generate a force away from the threatening stimulus and then continues to accelerate,' he said."

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Fruit Flies, Fighter Jets Use Similar Evasive Tactics When Attacked

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  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Friday April 11, 2014 @02:54PM (#46728105) Homepage

    It sounds like they simply described the fly turning directly away from the predator and running, which is NOT what a fighter jet does (unless they just want to be shot down by a missile). At least, not unless they were already outside of their range (at that point, running is the best strategy).

    A fighter jet would make a sharp turn TOWARDS the attacker so as to cross his path at a sharp angle, which maximizes the velocity difference between them (velocity is a vector, and they are rapidly closing at an angle). This maximizes the amount of delta-V a missile would have to apply to intercept the aircraft, and in the event of a gunshot it maximizes the amount of lead angle that would need to be used (which is very difficult to pull off). Basically you try to ruin their opportunity to fire on you, so that you can get into a dogfight and hopefully get an opportunity to fire at them.

    See something bad and run away is a very intuitive strategy, and it probably makes a lot of sense in nature where predators have to make physical contact to hurt you. In a world of weapons where things like lead angles and enfilading fire come into play the optimum strategy may not be what a rabbit does when it sees a cat.

  • I always thought... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday April 11, 2014 @03:14PM (#46728287) Homepage Journal
    ...fruit flies like bananas. I stand corrected.

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.