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What Adaptations Do Bats Have To Enable Them To Fly?

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Daisy Sarma Profile
Daisy Sarma answered
Bats are mammals that can fly and are, therefore, different from all the other flying species, i.e. Birds. However, despite being a mammal, a bat can fly because of various adaptations its body has made. For starters, bats do not have heavy bones. Their bones are light, which enables reduction in body weight, one of the things that enable it to fly through air, unlike us. Not only are the bones light, some of them are also modified into highly specialized structures. They are smaller in size than the corresponding bones in other mammals. The prime examples for this are the fibula and the ulna.    Besides this adaptation, bats also have bones in the cranium that are joined together to ensure additional reduced body weight. Skeletal structure supporting the wing consists of the arm and four fingers. This is where it differs from other birds, which have the arm and one finger as the wing's support skeletal structure. The wing membrane forms around the modified arm and fingers, and is called the patagium. The patagium extends to the tail and feet area of the bat and forms the uropatagium. This specialized structure helps the bat navigate in the air and also aids in flying.    Another modification is the keel, which is located in the region of the sternum. Flight muscles form around this keel.
Patricia Devereux Profile
The genus of bats is Chiroptera, Latin for "hand wing." While other mammals, fish, and reptiles are said to "fly," they actually glide. Only bats achieve true, fully powered, bird-like flight.
Bats' wings consist of legs with a wrist and hand with five elongated fingers, over which a thin, double membrane is stretched to make the air-pumping surface. The membrane contains blood vessels, nerves, and tendons. It is also attached to the bat's lower body, legs and tail.
The structure of the wing membrane, the arrangement of the bones supporting it, and the positioning of the muscles provide the bat with the lightness and maneuverability necessary for catching insects, hovering above flowers, or quickly avoiding obstacles.
Bats launch themselves chiefly at night, but can be observed foraging in the daylight. They drop down from upside-down perches or detach themselves from vertical surfaces, flying immediately.
The flitting flight pattern of insectivore bats seems irregular to humans, but the animal is tracking unseen insects.
In Thailand, I saw a colony of flying foxes -- the biggest bat in the world, reaching a wingspan of up to six feet -- leave its riverside roost at sunset. Hundreds of bats flowed straight across the sky with slow, purposeful wing beats. As fruit-eaters, their prey wasn't going anywhere!

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