Bat wings consists of a skin-covered fibrous membrane attached to the sides of their bodies and extending over their arms and elongated fingers. The wings also contain long thin thread-like muscles embedded in the wing membrane. Researchers at Brown University, USA, set out to see how these contribute to bat flight by getting bats to fly through a wind tunnel in calm air and with a headwind.
They filmed the bats and studied how the wings changed shape as the bats took off, flew and landed. The scientists then temporarily paralysed the bats’ membrane muscles with injections of microscopic amounts of botulinum toxin (aka “Botox”) and studied the bats’ flight through the wind tunnel.
They found the bats with paralysed muscles struggled to fly in calm air and flew slower in the headwind. They also found the wings tended to bow out like a sheet billowing in a draught. The bats could partially compensate for the increased bowing by increasing the amplitude of the wing beat, and tipping the wing more.
Overall, these results show that a bat’s wing membrane is not just a passive sheet, like the fabric of a kite. The research team wrote in their report: “The wing membrane is not free to passively billow and deform during steady flight. Instead, it is actively controlled to modulate shape and aerodynamic performance … the embedded muscles of the expansive armwing modulate wing tissue dynamics to control camber (bowing) and other traits”. They went on conclude: “Active control over the wing membrane is therefore likely a key component to the evolution of mammalian flight.”
References: Inside JEB 14 July 2022; Journal of Experimental Biology 14 July 2022 doi: 10.1242/jeb.243974.
Editorial Comment: Being able to control wing shape with changing conditions while flying is an essential aspect of powered flight. Yet most theories on the evolution of bats concentrate on how the forelimbs of a mouse-like creature changed into bat wings with greatly elongated fingers, but as this study shows, it takes more than long finger bones and stretched skin to make a bat.
Time to be honest you Bat Bio Specialists, half-evolved bats with long fingers but without wing membrane muscles, never managed to get into the air because they had none of the genes needed to form specialised wing membrane muscles and being unable to fly in calm air simply won’t produce such genes.
Therefore, it is far more logical to believe the Creator who made bats gave them all the features they needed to fly, so bats have existed in their fully functional state from the beginning. Genesis tells us that flying creatures were made according to their kinds, and the fossil record and living biology affirms that bats have always been fully formed bats.
Creation Research News 3 August 2022
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