Sep 21, 2019

Wings as inertial appendages: how bats recover from aerial stumbles

The Journal of Experimental Biology
David B BoermaSharon M Swartz


For many animals, movement through complex natural environments necessitates the evolution of mechanisms that enable recovery from unexpected perturbations. Knowledge of how flying animals contend with disruptive forces is limited, however, and is nearly nonexistent for bats, the only mammals capable of powered flight. We investigated perturbation recovery in Carollia perspicillata by administering a well-defined jet of compressed air, equal to 2.5 times bodyweight, which induced two types of disturbances, termed aerial stumbles: pitch-inducing body perturbations and roll-inducing wing perturbations. In both cases, bats responded primarily by adjusting extension of wing joints, and recovered pre-disturbance body orientation and left-right symmetry of wing motions over the course of only one wingbeat cycle. Bats recovered from body perturbations by symmetrically extending their wings cranially and dorsally during upstroke, and from wing perturbations by asymmetrically extending their wings throughout the recovery wingbeat. We used a simplified dynamical model to test the hypothesis that wing extension asymmetry during recovery from roll-inducing perturbations can generate inertial torques that alone are sufficient to produce the...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Cell Cycle
Recovery - Healing Process
Desmodus rotundus
Carollia perspicillata
Mental Depression
Biological Evolution

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