3-D Analysis of the flight trajectories of flies (drosophila melanogaster)

Heinrich Buelthoff, Tomaso Poggio, Christian Wehrhahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


We have developed a computer system for reconstructing and analyzing three dimensional flight trajectories of flies. Its application to the study of the free flight behaviour of the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster is described. The main results are: a) Drosophila males only occasionally track other flies; b) in such cases the fly’s angular velocity is a function of the error angle under which the leading fly is seen; c) body saccades can be demonstrated during cruising flights; d) high angular velocities are strongly correlated with low forward velocities, probably reflecting an aerodynamic constraint of flight. The 3-D technique described may provide an adequate tool for studying the organization of the systems present in flies and for relating the free flight behaviour to previous analyses of tethered flies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-815
Number of pages5
JournalZeitschrift fur Naturforschung - Section C Journal of Biosciences
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - 1980 Oct 1


  • Computer Reconstruction
  • Drosophila
  • Free Flight
  • Saccades
  • Tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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