If you happen to see a bat flying around you in real life, it's easy to panic and not see much of anything but a vague blur as you cover your head and cower. But they're actually pretty graceful when you really look at them. And new slow motion, x-ray footage just goes to show it in even greater detail, all while revealing one of the creature's high-flying secrets.


When Nicolai Konow of Brown University and his team of biologists carefully filmed some bats, they found that the little guys' extra stretchy tendons are the key to all the magic.

Smithsonian Magazine explains:

The team specifically looked at a species called Seba’s short-tailed bat, and used technology called XROMM (X-ray Reconstruction of Moving Morphology) that integrates three-dimensional renderings of bone structure into X-ray video, allowing for detailed analysis of muscle mechanics and anatomy during an animal’s movement. Their analysis ...showed that the bats first stretch out the tendons that anchor their biceps and triceps muscles to their bones, then compress the tendons to release energy and power their flight upward.

[Smithsonian Magazine via Neatorama]