Like pirouetting figure skaters, twisting high divers, or a skateboarder trying to land a 900, bats use inertia to flip upside down before they land. Brown University evolutionary biologists Sharon Swartz and Kenneth Breuer filmed Seba’s short-tailed bat and the lesser dog-faced fruit bat in slow motion, 1000 frames per second, to analyze how they can reorient their bodies in flight. From PBS.org:

“We know all of its angles, joint angles and wing postures that happen during this two-second maneuver,” Breuer said. “What they do is move their wings in very characteristic ways in order to manipulate their center of mass and moment of inertia…

As the bat approaches that landing site, it slows down and brings its posture vertically, using its wings in an asymmetric manner. It brings its left wing in, flaps, is able to rotate and then it brings its wings forward and that enables it to pitch, so the body rotates. It stretches its legs out, and it’s able to grab onto the gauze with its feet and land.”

In the archives: More bats, including these Baby Bat Burritos. Plus, all sorts of flying and some skateboarding, too.

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