Hungry Fruit Flies are Extreme Ultramarathon Fliers

In 2005, an ultramarathon runner ran continuously 560 kilometers (350 miles) in 80 hours, without sleeping or stopping. This distance was roughly 324,000 times the runner’s body length. Caltech scientists have discovered that fruit flies can fly up to 15 kilometers (9 miles) in a single journey—6 million times their body length, or the equivalent of over 10,000 kilometers for the average human. In comparison to body length, this is further than many migratory species of birds can fly in a day.


The research was conducted in the laboratory of Michael Dickinson, Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering and Aeronautics and executive officer for biology and biological engineering. A paper describing the study appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on April 20.


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