How Do Bats Land Upside Down?

An incredible maneuver, explained with slow-motion video.

How do bats achieve their unique upside-down resting posture? The in-flight maneuver they do seconds before sticking such a landing is both precise and puzzling, as bats have heavy wings relative to their overall body weight. Now, researchers from Brown, publishing in PLOS Biology, have finally figured out how the flying animals pull it off.

Using high-speed video, the team discovered the bats actually take advantage of their heavy wings by using them to create inertia, much like a figure skater shifting body weight to increase their spin. As they begin their final approach, bats pull one wing closer to their body while keeping the other fully extended, creating the inertia that allows them to reorient themselves from the flying position to a head-under-heals vertical hang in a fraction of a second.