Pads on wrists and ankles of bats attach to smooth surfaces via wet adhesion.

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"The sucker-footed bats of Madagascar, Myzopoda aurita, had rarely been seen in the wild and were listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. But several years ago, biologists stumbled upon some colonies in a new-growth forest on the southeastern section of the island, opening the door to studies.

"Daniel Riskin, a postdoctoral research associate in ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, traveled last summer to Madagascar to study one of the two species of sucker-footed bats with biologist Paul Racey. In first-time experiments in the wild, the pair made a surprising discovery: The bats don’t use suction after all. Instead, they use wet adhesion, secreting a fluid, possibly sweat, that enables the pads on the bats’ wrists and ankles to attach to surfaces." (Brown University News 2009)

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"Individuals of most bat species hang head-down by their toenails from rough surfaces, but Madagascar's endemic sucker-footed bat (Myzopoda aurita) clings head-up to smooth leaves using specialized pads on its wrists and ankles. We investigated the adhesive performance of 28 individuals and found that attachment performance on brass was not affected by the presence or absence of a seal around the pad–surface interface. Furthermore, on smooth acrylic, the wrist pads were more than nine-fold weaker when lifted perpendicular to the surface than when pulled parallel to it. The unimportance of a seal and the difference in strength in those directions on a smooth surface are characteristic of wet adhesion, but not of suction. Thus, despite its name, the sucker-footed bat appears to adhere using wet adhesion. We observed that when wrist pads were pushed anteriorly, they unpeeled easily from the surface because of deformation of the pads. This most likely permits rapid detachment during crawling, but would also cause passive detachment if bats roosted head-down. This provides an ecomorphological explanation to the head-up roosting behaviour of these unique bats." (Riskin and Racey 2009:223)

Secret to cicada's abundance: bacteria

Journal article
How do sucker-footed bats hold on, and why do they roost head-up?Biological Journal of the Linnean SocietyDecember 15, 2009

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