Hand + Wing= Chiroptera OR Bats!
The wings of a bat are perhaps this furry critter’s most distinctive feature, and even gave bats, or Chiroptera, their name (hand wing)!
Though bats and birds share flight as a defining characteristic, they arrived at this feature independently via convergent evolution. Unlike birds that flap their arms to fly, bats use their digits! Check out the elongated fingers and thumb!
The hands of a bat have several unique features. Skin stretches between each finger to create a remarkable wing lighter and thiner than that of a bird. Interestingly, the skin, though incredibly delicate due to its thinness, can regrow to repair tears. Bats also have a thumb which helps all the “normal” things hands do like hanging, climbing and handling food. A bat’s thumb is also generally equipped with a claw and, though helpful for gripping, is also good for fighting with other bats!
- The Royal Ontario Museum’s bat expert, Burton Lim, is on twitter!
- Learn more about bats, and how to make your own out of your hands, HERE!
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: November 11th, 2013.