Friday, 19 February 2010

Dragonfly aerodynamics

It has been questioned why dragonflies have 2 sets of wings. 2 pairs of wings add nothing to lift, it is thought the second pair decreases lift, nor manoeuvrability. Instead of an second set of wings, flies have halteres which function as gyroscopes and give them significant manoeuvrability. Dragonflies are still highly manoeuvrable—they can appear stationery from the vantage of their moving prey—they may just use a different mechanism to flies.

Modelling of dragonfly flight suggests that 2 sets of wings can decrease energy requirements if they beat out of phase.
Despite efforts at understanding the implications of flapping flight with two pairs of wings, previous studies have generally painted a rather disappointing picture: interaction between fore and hind wings reduces the lift compared with two pairs of wings operating in isolation. Here, we demonstrate with a mechanical model dragonfly that, despite presenting no advantage in terms of lift, flying with two pairs of wings can be highly effective at improving aerodynamic efficiency. This is achieved by recovering energy from the wake wasted as swirl in a manner analogous to coaxial contra-rotating helicopter rotors. With the appropriate fore–hind wing phasing, aerodynamic power requirements can be reduced up to 22 per cent compared with a single pair of wings, indicating one advantage of four-winged flying that may apply to... dragonflies...
So a second pair of wings decreases the energy requirements of dragonflies by a significant amount. A useful design feature and seen elsewhere in the biosphere—V formation bird flight decreases energy requirements by half by decreasing drag.

5 comments:

  1. yeah but why did God create them in the first place?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Point taken. Of course they wouldn't have carried diseases like dengue prior to the Fall, nor would they have bitten.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds similar to dragonflies

    This is an example of convergence, when two unrelated creatures evolve the same ability, or even gene or protein, at separate points. TOOOOTALLY all scientific like of course.

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  4. okay, hold on. You wrote mosquito, so I just skimmed over what was written below that link and then posted a link to an article on the exact same study....

    I should learn to pay more attention!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oops. Significant mistake on my behalf there. Thanks DMM.

    Fixed now. Of course mosquitoes only have a single pair of wings.

    ReplyDelete

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