NATURE NEWS: Bats have a clever aerodynamic trick to make flying easier, researchers have found: the sharp edge at the front of their wings cuts through the air in such a way as to create a vortex on top of the wing, producing up to 40% of the lift needed to stay aloft.
“It explains how these animals are able to fly at very slow speed,” says Anders Hedenström from Lund University in Sweden, who led the research — published in Science 1 — that showed the effect with a live bat.
The phenomenon of a 'leading-edge vortex' is known to help insects to fly; this discovery helped to work out how the bumble bee manages to stay airborne. But it hasn’t been definitively seen before in a non-insect with live animals.
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