Shaved bat wings show sensory hairs help manage flight

John Timmer

Although one of the diagnostic features of mammals is the hair they sport, the typical description of a bat’s wing usually includes the term "leathery." In contrast to the rest of their bodies, the wings of these animals are largely devoid of hair. Largely, but not completely. Researchers have rediscovered a set of sensory hairs on the wings of bats, shown that they respond to light puffs of air, and found that getting rid of them alters the way bats fly. All of that suggests that the hairs help the bat generate a picture of the air flow across the surfaces of their wings.

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