By Lenny Pierce
You might not think much of blowflies. They grow up eating feces and spend their adult lives sniffing around for rotting carcasses to munch on. But when you consider that these insects can beat their wings up to 150x per second, all with muscles thinner than a strand of hair, you might develop a keener interest in these airborne nuggets of grossness. Thanks to this video released by the University of Oxford, you can now take a simulated peek inside the thorax of a blowfly and see how this miracle of biomechanics works.
The yellow and red muscles are responsible for driving the wings up and down, while the much smaller green and blue muscles help the fly steer. Dr. Simon Walker of the University of Oxford and first author of the paper in PLOS One Biology noted that these smaller muscles do this by actually changing the shape of the thorax itself. “It’s amazing how such tiny muscles have such a large effect,” said Walker.