A new study reveals how bats use their sense of touch to navigate with precision when they’re flying in the dark.

Researchers from an elite group of schools in the United States have found that bats actually utilize completely different methods for flying than what they previously thought. The team consisted of researchers from the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Columbia University Medical Center.

The study found that bats actually have a series of receptors or feelers scattered across their wings which allow them to fly with such precision and make the moves that otherwise would be impossible for a creature that couldn’t see well at night, and has to do some extensive hunting after nightfall.

Cynthia Moss of Johns Hopkins University pointed out that, “Our next steps will be following the sensory circuits in the wings all the way from the skin to the brain. In this study, we have identified individual components of these circuits, but next we would like to see how they are connected in the central nervous system.”

This really is only the first step in really beginning to understand bats and how they operate. Just the finding regarding the sensors that they have on their wings is a major step in the right direction, because it was something that previously was thought to work through different methods. Meaning, bats were thought to utilize completely different senses to actually fly.

Part of those further investigations would be what Moss described as the next level of understanding. It’s important to note that the study also revealed that those sensors are really just very small hairs. It’s because of these factors that the bats are able to detect slight changes in air temperature and ultimately that gives them the ability to see things that are coming and fly with such precision.

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