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Slow Motion X-Ray Cameras Offer Insight Into How Bats Fly


Wildlife researchers now have a much clearer idea of how bats fly, thanks to the wicked-looking X-Ray video above that shows the animal’s skeleton at work.

Nicolai Konow of Brown University explains that scientists weren’t quite sure how the small mammals generated extra wing power for take-off and gaining altitude. But video recently shot using the school’s complex X-Ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology (XROMM) camera system show how the critters do it.


By stretching before they take flight, bats can store extra energy in biceps and triceps tendons, giving them a reserve for when extra power is needed. The ability is believed to be unique to bats.

Besides being just plain cool to know, the discovery could lead to improvements in the way micro-airplanes and other vehicles are built.


Brown’s XROMM system combines 3D X-Ray images of bone structure with data from biplanar X-Ray video to create detailed images of skeletons in motion. Biologists at the university have been running XROMM experiments since 2007, explaining esoterica such as how the jaws of the snail-eating carp get through the shell and how iguanas breathe.

(via Science Recorder)

Image credits: “W.M. Keck Foundation XROMM Facility” and “Biomechanics of jaw protusion in common carp” courtesy of Brown University