Moving Formations

Every October, the skies of Britain comes alive with a beautiful, baffling spectacle – starlings swirling in their hundreds and thousands, in shapes that defy mathematical description.

Flocking birds such as these starlings show a complex and mesmerizing coherence.

Here’s a National Geographic video of starlings performing their “aerial ballet”

For a scientific explanation of this aerial dance, see

Creatures other than birds also flock together in numbers and formations that are just as mesmerizing.

Schools of fishes numbering in the hundreds exploit strength in numbers that also confuse predators.

Locusts are solitary critters but they suddenly turn gregarious as they gather in large numbers. While the patterns they form in flight may not have the twistor shapes of bird flocks, they nevertheless display a formal order individuals spacing that prevents collisions in the density of the packed throng.

A swarm of locusts migrating.

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