Berkeley Fluids Seminar

University of California, Berkeley

Bring your lunch and enjoy learning about fluids!

March 10, 2014

Prof. Robert Dudley (Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley)

From Gliding Ants to Andean Hummingbirds: The Evolution of Animal Flight Performance

Unsteady aerodynamic mechanisms underpinning animal flight have recently been intensively studied, but less well understood are those evolutionary pathways leading to the acquisition and subsequent elaboration of flapping flight. Recently discovered behaviors in Neotropical canopy ants demonstrate directed aerial descent in the complete absence of wings; controlled aerial behavior has preceded the origin of wings in insects and other flying animals. Use of experimental gas mixtures decoupling physiological from biomechanical limits to performance can elucidate physical constraints on flight in fully volant forms. Such constraints are revealed on an evolutionary timescale through the application of combined phylogenetic and biomechanical analyses to hummingbird and bumblebee flight capacity across steep altitudinal transects.

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