It's long been known that birds have a sense for the Earth's magnetic field and can use it to aid in navigating their long migratory routes across the continents, but researchers at Oxford University and the National University of Singapore think their innate navigation tools are even cooler than once supposed. A new study shows that birds may actually see that magnetic field.
A cache of feathers preserved in amber, dating from around 70 to 85 million years ago, was just found in Canada, showing that border between winged dinosaurs and the earliest avians. The study indicates that these feathers, relatively modern, were already appearing even before the non-avian dinosaurs were extinct.
Click to see some amazing photos of feathers trapped in amber.
By Joshua SaulPosted 05.20.2011 at 11:03 am 7 Comments
In 2006, Darpa, the Department of Defense's R&D arm, commissioned AeroVironment, a company specializing in remote aircraft, to create an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) small enough to fly through an open window. AeroVironment had already built the 4.5-foot-wingspan Raven, which first saw combat over Afghanistan in 2003, but making a UAV so much smaller took five years and 300 different wing designs.
A new lifelike seagull ‘bot is one of the most realistic bio-inspired flight machines we’ve seen. SmartBird takes off, flies and lands on its own, flapping its wings and turning its head and tail to steer. It is modeled on the herring gull and its appearance and movements are uncannily similar to the real thing.
A year and a half ago, we saw our first look at DARPA's hummingbird drone, a teeny robotic spyplane inspired by the mid-air dexterity of the hummingbird. But now we've got a video of the drone in action, much more capable and with the ability to do its acrobatics for much longer.
The spongy bones and tough-as-nails beaks of woodpeckers are inspiring a new generation of shock absorbers, potentially shielding airplane black boxes, football players and other valuable materials from the forces of impact.
Is it the beginning of the end times? After all, three is a Biblical number and that’s how many mass animal deaths that have been reported in Arkansas and Louisiana as of this writing. The day after 100,000 drum were found belly-up in the Arkansas River, 4,000 to 5,000 red-winged blackbirds dropped dead from the sky in Beebe, Ark. Now, 500 more dead blackbirds have been found littering a quarter-stretch of Louisiana highway. Naturally, the rampant speculation and baseless theorizing is already underway.
Move over, hovercraft. This airplane can perch, bird-style, on a power line.
Using computer algorithms, MIT researchers have designed a foam glider with a single motor on its tail that can perch like a bird. The work has implications for robotic planes, potentially allowing them to recharge their batteries by perching on power lines, according to MIT News.