Thursday, 10 November 2016

Brazilian free-tailed bat is the fastest flyer in the animal kingdom

Bats are not just skilful aviators, they can also reach record-breaking speeds 

Date: November 9, 2016
Source: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


Up to now, the speed record for horizontal flight was held by birds from the swift family: the common swift, for example, can reach speeds of over 100 kilometers per hour. Together with colleagues from the USA, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell have now discovered a new front-runner among the acrobats of the air. However, the animal involved here is not a bird but a bat: the Brazilian free-tailed bat shoots through the night skies at over 160 kilometers per hour. Their aerodynamic body shape and longer than average wings compared to other bat species enable them to reach such vast speeds.

Birds are still a model for aviation engineers today and remain unequaled when it comes to flight characteristics. While birds can take off at comparatively low speeds, even the most modern aircraft must reach a speed of around 300 kilometers per hour to be able to lift off. The main contributing factors here are the animals' aerodynamic, projectile-like body shape and their low weight due to special bones. Moreover, the narrow wings found in faster-flying species also enable greater lift relative to the aerodynamic force invested.



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