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Keywords:

  • Bat flight;
  • chiropteran functional morphology;
  • shoulder girdle anatomy;
  • syndesmology

New data on the mechanisms of movements of the shoulder girdle and humerus of bats are described; potential mobility is compared to the movements actually used in flight. The study was performed on the basis of morphological and functional analysis of anatomical specimens of 15 species, high speed and high definition filming of two species and X-ray survey of Rousettus aegyptiacus flight. Our observations indicate that any excursions of the shoulder girdle in bats have relatively small input in the wing amplitude. Shoulder girdle movements resemble kinematics of a crank mechanism: clavicle plays the role of crank, and scapula—the role of connecting rod. Previously described osseous “locking mechanisms” in shoulder joint of advanced bats do not affect the movements, actually used in flight. The wing beats in bats are performed predominantly by movements of humerus relative to shoulder girdle, although these movements occupy the caudal-most sector of available shoulder mobility. Anat Rec, 296:382–394, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.