A 3D model of the skeletal muscles responsible for bird flight provides the most comprehensive and detailed picture of anatomy to date, researchers say. The study will form the basis of future research on the European starling’s wishbone, which these particular muscles support. Scientists hypothesize the wishbone bends during flight. “A lot of people have looked at this on a larger scale, but not in the detail we acquired,” says Spiro Sullivan, a doctoral student in the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri and lead researcher of the study, which appears in Integrative Organismal Biology: A Journal of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. “It’s an unprecedented look into an especially tiny animal that bridges the gap between microscopic and large-scale muscle function.” The researchers used an Xradia X-ray microscope to collect the data and create a three-dimensional model of the bird’s muscle fibers. “We’re using a mixture of enhanced CT imaging scans in combination with this new visualization technique of 3D muscle fiber architecture,” says Casey Holliday, an associate professor in the School of Medicine. “It’s one of the first biological uses of thi...