GREEN

The 'Zoolander Effect' Stops Birds From Colliding In Flocks

He can't turn left, and neither can they.

30/09/2016 10:22 AM AEST | Updated 30/09/2016 11:19 AM AEST
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Zoolander and budgies both can't turn left.

Much-loved male model parody Derek Zoolander can't turn left on the runway, yet his weakness has been shown to be a budgerigar's strength -- the reason the birds never have mid-air collisions is because they always, ALWAYS turn right.

This stunning fact was discovered by The University of Queensland Brain Institute researcher Mandyam Srinivasan, who was the first in the world to test what happens when two birds fly towards each other.

"Birds must have been under strong evolutionary pressure to establish basic rules and strategies to minimise the risk of collision in advance," Srinivasan said.

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Tens of thousands of budgerigars gather around this isolated waterhole in Central Australia and not one hits another.

"But no previous studies have ever examined what happens when two birds fly towards each other.

"Our modelling has shown that birds always veer right -- and sometimes they change their altitude as well."

The figure was discovered by releasing two budgerigars at separate ends of a tunnel and filming them with a high-speed camera.

After 102 flights with 10 birds, not a single collision was recorded.

Srinivasan said the aviation industry had something to learn from these colourful little bird brains.

"As air traffic becomes increasing busy, there is a pressing need for robust automatic systems for manned and unmanned aircraft, so there are real lessons to be learned from nature," Srinivasan said.

Indeed, the research was partially funded by Boeing Defence Australia.

So there you have it, there's something we can all learn from Derek Zoolander.

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