LAURENS HOWLE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LAURENS HOWLE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Whale flipper aerodynamics. Computer model showing airflow over a humpback whale pectoral flipper. In wind tunnel tests, the whale flipper showed 8 percent better lift properties than a normal airplane wing, and withstood stall (reduction in lift) at a 40 percent steeper wind angle. Researchers believe this is due to the scalloped and uneven protruberances, known as tubercles, on the flippers leading edge. It is thought that tubercles on humpback whale flippers allow the whale to swim more efficiently through water. Tubercles may one day be designed for new biomimetic (mimicking nature) wings, helicopter blades, propellers and ship rudders.
Model release not required. Property release not required.