Taiwan-US study offers breakthrough on bird flight

Study featured in 'Cell' sheds light on feathers through multi-disciplinary approach

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Cover of "Cell" issue featuring Taiwan-US study.

Cover of "Cell" issue featuring Taiwan-US study. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A joint Taiwan-U.S. study on the secret behind bird flight has been published in the latest issue of the scientific journal "Cell" and features the endemic Taiwan blue magpie on its cover.

Titled “The Making of a Flight Feather: Bio-architectural Principles and Adaptation,” the study explored how birds manage to fly based on the research of 25 avian species in Taiwan and 100-million-year-old fossils unearthed in Myanmar, reported CNA.

Through a multi-disciplinary approach combining biophysics, molecular biology, ornithology, and paleontology, the study delved into the structure and evolution of feathers that allow birds to take off and fly. The scientists involved in the study hail from ten different institutions, including China Medical University in Taichung and the University of Southern California (USC).

The research charted new territory by incorporating developmental biology, evolutionary biology, environmental ecology, and paleontology, said Chuong Cheng-ming (鍾正明), one of the authors of the study. He is also a fellow with Academia Sinica and a professor at USC's Department of Pathology.

The results could inspire the design and development of biomimetic materials as well as serve as a reference for innovations in biomedical engineering, CNA quoted him as saying.