Bats flying precision secret exposed, its tiny hairs and sensory neurons

According to a new scientific study, bats use the tiny hairs on their wings for guiding the elaborate flights they take. In other words, these extremely agile fliers boast the ability to carry out movements with complete perfection primarily due to the hairs they have on their wings. The study revealed that these hairs are special due to their ability to detect minor alterations in airflow occurring on their wings.

Air movements taking place over the hairs generate nerve signals, which eventually reach the brain of these flying mammals. These inputs allow bats to take decisions regarding the direction of their flights and altitude in the fraction of a second, which results in perfectly maneuvered flights.

Cynthia F. Moss, one of the authors of the study, said that to date no research group has ever examined the sensors present in bat wings that allow the mammal to serve as something more functional than an airplane, flipper, propeller or a simple airfoil.

According to Moss, the findings of this new study can help researchers in gathering more information on the procedures organisms adopt for using tough for guiding their movements. Moss is a neuroscientist representing the Johns Hopkins University.

United States is home to a large number of big brown bats. The study discussed here an involved investigation of the flying traits of this bat species.

The big brown bats are known for using their wings not only for flying, but also for capturing insects, cradling their young and climbing along surfaces. While bats have reflected sound or echolocation for providing them with guidance during flights, the touch sensors help these mammals for making the required wing adjustments to speed up, slow down and stabilize.

During this recent study, researchers managed to locate multiple touch sensors on bat wings. Inspection of those sensors made them realize that a large share of them is situated at the root of tiny, fine hairs.

When the researchers stimulated those sensors by applying puffs of airs, they found that their action resulted in reactions in the bat’s primary somatosensory cortex. For those who don’t know: somatosensory cortex is a part of the brain that contains receptors and sensory modalities of different kinds.

This finding of the researchers suggests that the tiny sensors on bat wings play the role of data relay centers that keep on updating the mammal about air conditions.