How 5 Different Creatures Flap Their Wings

Eleanor Lutz is the 22-year-old Seattle-based designer behind Spaceship Earth, an online map that transforms Earth into the Death Star. But Lutz isn’t just a sci-fi nerd. She’s also got a degree in molecular biology and a love for the animal kingdom, interests she pursues in earnest by way of science-based visualizations and charts over at her website, Tabletop Whale.

In her latest visualization, Lutz decided to visualize the flight patterns of various winged animals. Inspired by her work at an insect lab as an undergrad, Lutz examines five slow-motion videos of a bat, dragonfly, Canada goose, hummingbird, and hawk moth. She then tracked the path of the articulated points on each creature’s wings to reveal the invisible path each wing beat traces… in the case of the hummingbird, as much as 200 times per second.

This isn’t Lutz’s only animated visualization about biology. She has also design a beautiful chart of North American butterflies, a brilliant explainer on how muscles flex, and a visual compendium of creatures that glow-in-the-dark. You can buy even (static) prints of any of her science posters, starting at just $13.

If Lutz keeps it up, Tabletop Whale could very well become my favorite science visualization site. Check out her work here.JB