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Exploring head shape and aerodynamics


PhysOrg

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It's a bird… it's a plane… it's a bat! All three may be soaring through the sky, but their shapes vary greatly, which affects their aerodynamics during flight. Birds typically have streamlined head profiles that strongly contrast with the appendages featured on echolocating bats. For example, birds do not rely as bats do on external pinnae, the visible part of the ear outside the head, to localize sound during echolocation, or the use of sound waves to locate objects in space. Some bat species also have a large noseleaf, or nose ornament, which allows them to vocalize through their nostrils and direct the echolocation call. While pinnae and noseleaves allow a bat to perform echolocation for hunting and foraging, they are often large in comparison to the bat's body, and this could potentially slow the bats down by creating a large amount of drag, or resistance, as the bat flies.

 

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