Researchers have captured a stunning X-ray video of a bat in flight. According to the researchers, bats are equipped to stretch and keep energy in their bicep and tricep tendons while taking off and climbing. This ability provides an extra power boost for the winged mammals. Using advanced imaging technology, the researchers were able to see how bats travel through the air.
According to study leader Nicolai Konow of Brown University, elbow extension takes place utilizing “recycled” energy stored in the triceps tendon. Konow believes this is a unique ability, as tiny mammal limb tendons are believed to be too thick and stiff to be stretched.
Konow contends that researchers analyzed information about skeletal movement and information about muscle mechanics and discovered that the biceps and triceps tendons of small bats are stretched and preserve energy as the bat takes off from the ground and moves vertically. Researchers utilized an advanced 3-D imaging technology known as XROMM to reach this conclusion.
XROMM lets researchers visualize quick internal skeletal movement. The technology uses 3-D models of bone morphology as well as data from biplanar X-ray video to develop extremely accurate re-animations of the 3D bones moving in 3D space.
The researchers also turned to a new method known as fluoromicrometry, where tiny radio opaque markers are placed directly into muscle, which lets researchers accurately determine length change during contractions.
These results suggest that the action of muscles driving animal motions through fluids may be impacted by series elasticity, and that some tendons in tiny mammals can be stretched by muscular and aerodynamic forces, allowing force control of joint movement.
According to the researchers, these findings could have major implications for the creation of micro-airplanes, as well as water-based search and rescue vehicles.