Clark School Home UMD

ISR News Story

Bats' touch sensor cells enable precision flight

A team of researchers that includes ISR-affiliated Professor Cynthia Moss (Johns Hopkins University) and ISR Assistant Research Scientist Susanne Sterbing-D’Angelo have demonstrated for the first time that bats fly so precisely because their wings are equipped with highly sensitive touch sensors, cells that respond to even slight changes in airflow.

They have published their results in an article in the May 12 edition of the journal Cell Reports.

The researchers determined how the sense of touch plays a key role in powered flight. They showed how sensory receptors in bat wings send information about airflow to neurons in the brain, enabling the bat to make split-second flight control adjustments.

In addition to Moss and Sterbing-D’Angelo, the authors included Mohit Chadha from the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science and Department of Psychology at the University of Maryland, and Kara L. Marshall, Laura A. deSouza, and Ellen A. Lumpkin, of Columbia University.

"Until now no one had investigated the sensors on the bat's wing, which allow it to serve as more than a propeller, a flipper, an airplane wing or any simple airfoil," Moss said in a Johns Hopkins University interview. "These findings can inform more broadly how organisms use touch to guide movement."

Funding for the research was provided by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to Sterbing-D'Angelo and Moss, the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the Columbia Skin Disease Research Center to Lumpkin.

Video courtesy of Johns Hopkins University’s Office of Communications. Produced and edited by Len Turner, Director of Video Strategy; photographed by Dave Schmelick.

| Read more about the research in this JHU story | Washington Post coverage | Coverage by CBS News | Coverage in Science magazine | NBC News coverage |

Related Articles:
Sterbing-D'Angelo interviewed by Forbes magazine
Heavy media coverage for bat wing hair research findings
Tiny hairs on bats’ wings act as speedometers
New AFOSR NIFTI Center features eight Clark School faculty
Alumna Kirsten Bohn's bat song research is Science cover story
Derek Paley is PI for new AFOSR grant
Oct. 9, 9 pm: Moss lab featured in National Geographic's "Brain Games"
Moss research uncovers bats' systematic 'active sensing' strategies
Moss wins DURIP Award for bat fluttering flight control research
Moss's findings published in Science reveal bats' fundamental 'targeting' tradeoff

May 11, 2015


Prev   Next

 

 

Current Headlines

Tsiropoulou to join University of New Mexico faculty

Qu Gives Keynote at WOCC 2017

Wood filter removes toxic dye from water

Prof. Alireza Khaligh to receive Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from Illinois Tech

Simon is co-editor of new Springer auditory research book

New Class Inducted into Order of the Engineer

Northrop Grumman renews as an ISR associate partner for third consecutive year

Students of Khaligh, Wu win China Scholarship Council awards

ECE Graduate Student Team, led by Prof. Khaligh, Wins 3rd place in the Allegheny Region Cleantech University Prize (CUP) Collegiate Competition 

Paley, Abshire, Martins promoted to full Professor by UMD President Wallace Loh

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar