Small and furry, bats are the only
to have achieved powered flight.
Their arms are spindly, with membranes stretched between the fingers on
each hand. This arrangement makes their wings quite different from those of
and in fact the bats have evolved flight quite independently.
Fisherman Bats. Photo by Gerald and Buff Corsi, © 2002 California
Academy of Sciences.
Bats also differ from other flying animals in their reliance on hearing
for navigation. Many bats use sonar echos to find their way around.
Despite their resemblance to rodents,
bats are not closely related to mice at all. Though their exact placement is
still uncertain, there is recent evidence that they may be more closely related
to the primates. Whatever their relationships, bats
are among the most successful groups of mammals: there are nearly 1,000 species
of bats around the world, making up about one quarter of all mammal species.
UCMP Special Exhibit: Vertebrate Flight
Want to learn more about flight? What do a pterosaur, a bat, and a bird have in
common? How do we know they evolved flight independently? Find out for yourself!
To learn much more about bats from their scientific names to how to keep
them out of your belfry visit the informative Bat
Conservation International site.