Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Watch how a bat flies in this X-ray video

You've probably seen a bat fly.

Watch how a bat flies in this X-ray video

Photograph by Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International

You’ve probably seen a bat fly. Even in Philly, they’re not especially hard to find. But you probably haven’t really seen a bat fly. They’re not slow or clumsy on the wing and take to the air just as the sun’s going down and the light is dying. For most of us standing on the ground, bat is synonymous with “dark, fuzzy thing flitting about in the distance.”

Well, let’s change that, shall we? Biologists at Brown University recently shot high-speed, X-ray videos of Seba’s short-tailed bats as they took flight. This accomplishes two things. One, it gives scientists a better understanding of how bats fly. Their thinking used to go that smaller mammals’ tendons were too stiff to stretch, but the X-rays suggest that bats power their flights by stretching and then compressing certain tendons. Two, it gives us these awesome slow-motion videos of both fleshy and skeletal bats to marvel at. [Neatorama]

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