Tuesday, 16 June 2015

How a moth slows its brain to see in the dark

Nocturnal hawkmoths can track and feed from wind-blown flowers thanks to a perfect adaptation to their movement

Presented by
Zoe Gough

For animals that rely on sight to navigate their surroundings, little or no light can present particular challenges.

Animals can experience a large range of light conditions during a single day, with intensities capable of varying by more than 10-billion fold.

Special adaptations to low-light can allow an animal to increase what it sees, but this is often at the detriment of their other capabilities such as flight.

Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Washington in the US wanted to find out what sort of “trade-off” makes this behaviour possible in the hawkmoth (Manduca sexta), an agile flyer that feeds on nectar at dawn, dusk and through the evening.

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