Navigation Links
Flapping protective wings increase lift

New research from Lund University in Sweden reveals the value of carrying two layers of wings around. The researchers studied dung beetles and the way their protective forewings actually function. These wings do not only protect but also help the beetles to lift off from the ground albeit at a cost.

The forewings of beetles, the elytra, are hardened structures which protect the insect's flying wings and body. The function of the forewings in flight has been questioned, which is what prompted researchers at Lund University's Department of Biology to study how the forewings and the underlying flying wings work in dung beetles. The researchers studied the air flow created by the wings when the beetles fly in a wind tunnel. The wind tunnel in Lund is one of a few of its kind in the world.

"The results show that the forewings, which are held out and flap during flight, generate lift, helping the beetles to stay airborne", says Christoffer Johansson Westheim, researcher at Lund University.

The study also shows, however, that the beetles are less effective at generating lift than other animals, as a result of their forewings negatively affecting their flying wings. Thus the protection afforded by the hardened forewings comes at a cost in the form of lower efficiency in flight. One conclusion to be drawn from this is that if the flying wings alone could provide enough power to keep the insect in flight, the forewings would fold back over the body while the beetle is flying, which is precisely what happens in some species. The study is the first of its kind on beetles, but the researchers consider that the results could apply generally to beetles whose flying wings flap behind forewings despite the fact that the dung beetles are a fairly extreme case, with a body weight of 5-7 grams and a wingspan of around 15 centimetres.

The beetles used in the current study were captured in South Africa, where they normally fly at night over open terrain, on the hunt for dung. Their flight speed is high and the dung beetles are hardly known for their manoeuvrability. They often miss the dung they are looking for and land some way away from it, but they prefer to walk the last distance rather than attempt a more accurate landing. The research study is part of a project aiming to understand the adaptations of various animals to flight, and how the animals' different origins affect their capacity to fly.


Contact: Christoffer Johansson Westheim
Lund University

Related biology news :

1. Soaring is better than flapping
2. Lead-flapping objects experience less wind resistance than their trailing counterparts
3. Following the leader can be a drag, according to students research on flapping flags
4. Folic acid food enrichment potentially protective against childhood cancers
5. Real smart: Protective clothing with built-in A/C
6. Estrogen hormone reveals protective ability after traumatic brain injury
7. The immune system has protective memory cells, researchers discover
8. Spray-on protective coating wins R&D 100 Award
9. Experimental radioprotective drug safe for lung cancer patients, says Pitt study
10. Good cholesterol structure identified, could help explain protective effects
11. Trojan Horse ploy to sneak protective drug into brains of stroke patients
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/7/2016)... 2016  Syngrafii Inc. and San Antonio Credit ... includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ eSignature "Wet" solution ... will result in greater convenience for SACU members ... maintaining existing document workflow and compliance requirements. ... Highlights: ...
(Date:6/2/2016)...   The Weather Company , an IBM Business (NYSE: ... capability in which consumers will be able to interact with ... via voice or text and receive relevant information about the ... Marketers have long sought an advertising solution that can create ... relevant and valuable; and can scale across millions of interactions ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... , May 24, 2016 Ampronix facilitates superior patient care by providing ...  3D medical LCD display is the latest premium product recently added to the range ... ... ... Sony 3d Imaging- LCD Medical Display- Ampronix News ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... bring innovative medical technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. The company's ... of various distribution, manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary to help ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Epic Sciences unveiled a liquid biopsy ... PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) ... test has already been incorporated into numerous clinical ... Over 230 clinical trials are investigating ... PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. Drugs targeting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical , ... compounds designed to target cancer stemness pathways, announced ... granted Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. Food ... gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin ... to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to ... faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected ... Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: