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Bioinspir Biomim. 2016 Aug 22;11(5):056008. doi: 10.1088/1748-3190/11/5/056008.

Morphology and deflection properties of bat wing sensory hairs: scanning electron microscopy, laser scanning vibrometry, and mechanics model.

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Institute for Systems Research, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


Bat wings are highly adaptive airfoils that enable demanding flight maneuvers, which are performed with astonishing robustness under turbulent conditions, and stability at slow flight velocities. The bat wing is sparsely covered with microscopically small, sensory hairs that are associated with tactile receptors. In a previous study we demonstrated that bat wing hairs are involved in sensing airflow for improved flight maneuverability. Here, we report physical measurements of these hairs and their distribution on the wing surface of the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus, based on scanning electron microscopy analyses. The wing hairs are strongly tapered, and are found on both the dorsal and ventral wing surfaces. Laser scanning vibrometry tests of 43 hairs from twelve locations across the wing of the big brown bat revealed that their natural frequencies inversely correlate with length and range from 3.7 to 84.5 kHz. Young's modulus of the average wing hair was calculated at 4.4 GPa, which is comparable with rat whiskers or arthropod airflow-sensing hairs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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