Inertial Guidance Systems in Insects: From the Neurobiology to the Structural Mechanics of Biological Gyroscopes

Thomas L. Daniel, Alexandre Dieudonne, Jessica Fox, Cameron Myhrvold, Sanjay Sane, and Barry Wark

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: Flying insects employ a vast array of sensory modalities to coordinate complex aerial maneuvers with incredible speed and acuity. One central feature underlying this is their ability to rapidly acquire and process information about rotational motion. In Diptera (flies), gyroscopic sensing is accomplished with halteres, organs that are derived from hindwings. In Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), a recent study has suggested that antennae serve this critical function. Here, we review the biomechanical and sensory aspects of these biological gyroscopes. We focus on past and ongoing research to understand how the physical and physiological aspects of these inertial guidance units interact to determine their functional performance.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 55, Number 4
Pages: 235 - 240
Cite this article: Daniel, Thomas L., Dieudonne, Alexandre, Fox, Jessica, Myhrvold, Cameron, Sane, Sanjay, Wark, Barry, "Inertial Guidance Systems in Insects: From the Neurobiology to the Structural Mechanics of Biological Gyroscopes", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 55, No. 4, Winter 2008-2009, pp. 235-240.
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