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Escape Behavior of Wingless Fly in Response to Stimulus

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Published on Aug 30, 2008

From the paper "Visually Mediated Motor Planning in the Escape Response of Drosophila" by Gwyneth Card and Michael H. Dickinson, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2008.....

A fly might bias its initial heading by either modulating its leg motion so as to jump away from a threat or, alternatively, jumping forward but then quickly using its wings to steer while jumping. To test between these hypotheses, we repeated our analysis of takeoff direction on flies whose wings had been surgically removed. Ninety-seven percent of wingless flies (35 out of 36) jumped in response to the looming stimulus (see the movie). The initial heading of wingless flies was statistically indistinguishable from normal winged flies. Although wing forces might still contribute, these experiments demonstrate that the leg motor system alone is sufficient to bias the direction of takeoff.

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