One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The balancing organ of a two-winged fly, seen as either of a pair of knobbed filaments that take the place of the hindwings, vibrating during flight.
- ‘The reduced remnants of the second pair of wings are known as halteres, and seem to function as stabilizers or as airspeed detectors.’
- ‘The critical role of the haltere in flight stability was first identified in 1714 by William Derham, who showed that a fly could not remain airborne if its tiny halteres were surgically removed.’
- ‘During flight, the halteres beat in precise anti-phase with the forewings, thereby activating several hundred specialized mechanosensory cells at the base of the structures.’
- ‘As early as 1932, before his arrival here, Gottfried Fraenkel clipped off the halteres of flies (the balancing organs behind the sole pair of wings) to see what would happen to their flight responses.’
- ‘There are imaginal discs for each of the six legs, two wings, and the two halteres (balancing organs), and for the genital apparatus, eyes, antennae, and other adult head structures.’
Mid 16th century (originally plural, denoting a pair of weights like dumb-bells held in the hands to give impetus when jumping): from Greek haltēres (plural), from hallesthai ‘to leap’.
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