NOTE: I previously asked the same question regarding wheels, because I thought that the answers would still help me and that wheels were more applicable to a wider audience than propellers. However, I deleted it after realizing it was a duplicate. I should've just asked my original question, since biological propellers have been my goal from the very beginning. After searching, this post is the closest thing to a duplicate I managed to find.
What the heck do you mean, Anatomically Correct Propellers??
So I've been playing around with the idea of biologically evolved propellers for a while now. I got the idea from the Peahat from the Legend of Zelda series of video games.
Is there a way for a biological creature to evolve in such a way that they have 'propellers' that allow them to fly around?
One problem would be that the spinning of the propellers would pull on muscles and ligaments until they tear. Think about what happens upon accidentally getting a wire or string caught in something that spins: it just pulls and pulls until the wire or string wraps around the mechanism completely, making it much harder to unravel. Sometimes it will even cause damage to the materials involved.
For this question, "propeller" can refer to any body part or body parts capable of moving in a circular fashion and that meet the requirements listed below:
- Body parts must spin to achieve enough lift to fly (no vertical limb movements)
- Must not damage the ligaments, muscles, or any body tissue. This includes damage from heat due to fast movements.
- Back-and-forth movement is allowed, but it somehow must meet the above two conditions
- The propeller should be biologically connected to and part of the organism.
Upon doing some basic research, I learned that the structure found in some single-celled organisms, the flagellum, is the closest thing we have to this. I'm looking for a large enough organism that could be seen without a microscope or magnifying glass. This range could be anywhere from small and bug-sized to the size of an elephant.
How might an organism evolve 'propeller-like' body parts that are capable of similar mechanical movements and allow flight?
My current idea involves having several flat "arms" at the top of the organism that can spin around for several revolutions. They tilt like helicopter blades to provide lift and boost upwards, and then straighten out to spin backwards and return to their original position to begin the process once again.
This is a new spin on the Anatomically Correct Series. Just roll with it, it's your turn now.