The Incredible Design of Owls’ Feathers

National Geographic has a news story on the incredibly silent flight of owls. The feathers of owls are brilliantly designed to allows stealth flight for quiet hunting. Now owl technology may help human designers make quieter aircraft. Leading engineers are trying to learn from the cunning aerodynamic principles in owls’ feathers – serrations on the leading edge feathers and tattered trailing edge feathers result in significant noise reduction, and the velvety down elsewhere helps absorb high frequency sounds as the birds rush through the air. The reduced noise helps surprise prey, and allows owls to hear well enough with their unusual asymmetric ears that they can use sound in the dark to help pinpoint prey. All cleverly designed – no other word fits – for night hunting.

Naw, these things just happen by blind chance. Strange that highly educated human designers can be so inspired by such accidents.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

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