Slow motion hummingbird footage (c) Masateru Maeda and Prof Hiroto Tanaka
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Slow motion footage reveals hummingbird wing secret

Footage shot with high-speed cameras has revealed how hummingbirds' tiny wings bend and flex to keep them in the air.

Masateru Maeda, a PhD student at Chiba University in Japan, captured the footage as part of a study that eventually aims to build hummingbird-inspired artificial wings.

The researchers found that the birds' primary feathers - the main flight feathers along the outer edges of their wings - slide as they flap. This changes the shape and size of the wing, precisely controlling the lift that the wings produce.

The research was presented at the Society for Experimental Biology's annual meeting in Valencia, Spain.

Footage courtesy of Masateru Maeda and Prof Hiroto Tanaka

  • 03 Jul 2013
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