July 8 - Bats are uniquely equipped among small mammals to store energy in their bicep and tricep tendons for extra power in take-off and climbing flight. Scientists at Brown University made the discovery while researching the mechanics of bat flight for possible adaptation in future man-made aircraft. Rob Muir has more
The first thing a healthy bat will do, when placed on the ground, is take off into the air as quickly as possible. Scientists at Brown University have found that to hasten its departure, the bat releases energy stored in tendons connecting its flight muscles to the bones in its wings. Using cutting edge X-ray imaging technology, and markers to measure changes in muscle length, the reseachers learned that the tendons behave in much the same way as elastic bands that stretch and release energy as the animal ascends. The knowledge adds to a growing database of information about bat flight that researchers hope will eventually lead to the development of autonomous aircfrat that can fly and manouevre like a bat.