Professor Sharon Swartz Research Seminar


Wednesday, May 2, 2018


4:45 pm


New England Building 206-Lecture/Seminar Room

Biomechanics speaker Sharon Swartz Seminar presents:
Bats Aren't Birds or Bugs: sensing, stretching, spinning, and the uniqueness of bat flight

Bat wings evolved from grasping, manipulating mammalian hands, and this origin influences the biomechanics of flight in bats in comparison to flight in birds and insects. Therefore, an evolutionary perspective is critical to advancing the comparative biology of flight, and helps distinguish those aspects of flight that are shared in all flying animals and those features that are unique to bats. Low weight, particularly in the wings, is important for all flying animals, but selection for reduced wing mass in bats must interact with aspects of neural control in the most morphologically complex of animal wings. In addition, the nature of wing skin as a complex functional material and the capacity to modulate wing mechanical properties during flight by an unusual group of muscles found only in bats proves critical to bat flight performance. Improved understanding of the functional architecture of bat wings not only provides insight into steady-state flight behaviors, but also holds promise for solving problems concerning bats’ abilities to recover from perturbations, fly effectively even following wing damage or injury, etc. This approach requires sophisticated bioengineering techniques such as particle image velocimetry, multi-camera high speed videography, and dynamic modeling, but also low-tech methods including polarized light photography, histology, and anatomical description.

Sponsors: Departments of Astronomy, Biology, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Math & Statistics, Physics, and the Program in Science, Technology, & Society

Lina Spallone

Biology Department