Research Article

Morphology, muscle capacity, skill, and maneuvering ability in hummingbirds

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Science  09 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6376, pp. 653-657
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao7104

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Making quick turns

Hummingbirds are well known for their impressive maneuvering during flight. Dakin et al. used a computer vision approach to characterize the details of flight in >200 hummingbirds from 25 species (see the Perspective by Wainwright). Larger species had enhanced agility owing to increased muscle mass. In all species, muscles dictated transitional movement, whereas wing shape facilitated sharp turns and rapid rotations. Species, and individuals within species, played on their strengths by combining inherent traits and learned skills.

Science, this issue p. 653; see also p. 636