frigatebirds, seabirds known to fly for weeks at a time over the ocean in search of fish, can sleep while flying. They can shut down one hemisphere at a time during flight, as expected or they can also rest both hemispheres at once - something scientists didn't expect them to be able to do while remaining airborne.
To figure this out, a team from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany developed a small device that was able to measure electroencephalographic (EEG) changes in birds' brain activity.
Another surprise was the fact that, despite this unique ability to sleep on the wing, frigatebirds slept less than an hour a day in the air - less than 10 percent of the time they normally spend sleeping on land.
The research has been published in Nature Communications.
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