Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Not All Bats Land The Same Way

Date:
March 21, 2009
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Scientists have documented for the first time how bats land. The results are surprising: not all bats land the same way. The findings could offer new insights into how the second-largest order of mammals evolved.

Bat on Arrival. A Brown University-led team has discovered that bats land differently depending on the roosting site in a first-ever video documentation.
Credit: Image courtesy of Brown University

People have always been fascinated by bats, but the scope of that interest generally is limited to how bats fly and their bizarre habit of sleeping upside down. Until now, no one had studied how bats arrive at their daytime perches.

A Brown University-led research team is the first to document the landing approaches of three species of bats — two that live in caves and one that roosts in trees. What they found was surprising: Not all bats land the same way.

“Hanging upside down is what bats do,” said Daniel Riskin, a postdoctoral researcher in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at Brown and lead author on a paper published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. “We've known this. But this is the first time anyone has measured how they land.”

Using sophisticated motion capture cameras in a special flight enclosure, the team filmed each species of bat as it swooped toward a latticed landing pad and landed on it. Cynopterus brachyotis, a tree-roosting bat common in tropical parts of southeast Asia, executed a half-backflip as it swooped upward to the landing site, landing as its hind legs and thumbs touched the pad simultaneously — a four-point landing, the group observed.

The landing is hard, Riskin noted, with an impact force more than four times the species’ body weight.

The team then turned its attention to two cave-roosting species, Carollia perspicillata and Glossophaga soricina. These bats, common in Central and South America, approach their landing target with a vertical pitch and then, at the last instant, yaw to the left or to the right — executing a cartwheel of sorts — before grasping the landing pad with just their hind legs.

The two-point landing is much gentler than the impact force exerted by the tree-roosting bats, the researchers observed; the cave-roosting bats have a landing impact force of just one-third of their body weight.

There are about 1,200 recognized bat species worldwide, so Riskin was cautious about not drawing any grand conclusions. Still, he said, the fact that the team has documented that bats land differently could open new insights into a species that makes up roughly one-fifth of all mammals on earth.

Other Brown researchers who worked on the paper include Sharon Swartz, associate professor of biology; Tatjana Hubel, a postdoctoral researcher; and Joseph Bahlman, a graduate student. John Ratcliffe, a biologist at the University of Southern Denmark, and Thomas Kunz, a biologist at Boston University, contributed to the paper.

The research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, The U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Sigma Xi in the United States, The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Danish Natural Sciences Research Council.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel K. Riskin, Joseph W. Bahlman, Tatjana Y. Hubel, John M. Ratcliffe, Thomas H. Kunz, and Sharon M. Swartz. Bats go head-under-heels: the biomechanics of landing on a ceiling. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2009; 212 (7): 945 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.026161

Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Not All Bats Land The Same Way." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090320102136.htm>.
Brown University. (2009, March 21). Not All Bats Land The Same Way. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090320102136.htm
Brown University. "Not All Bats Land The Same Way." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090320102136.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins