Bats Found to Be Faster Than Birds in New Experiment

January 30, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. transmitter / trænsˈmɪt ər / (n.) – a tool or gadget that gives off television or radio signals
Example: Radio stations should have transmitters to be able to broadcast their programs.

2. technique / tɛkˈnik / (n.) – the means or manner in which something is done
Example: He uses a special technique when playing basketball.

3. moderate / ˈmɒd ər ɪt / (adj.) – average or just right
Example: Expect moderate traffic in that area.

4. probable / ˈprɒb ə bəl / (adj.) – likely or possible to be true
Example: The cold weather is a probable cause of your cough.

5. extensive / ɪkˈstɛn sɪv / (adj.) – covering a wide area
Example: The government should fund extensive studies about mental health.


Read the text below.
A new study revealed that a species of bat may actually be faster in flight than birds.

In an experiment done by researchers from the University of Tennessee [ten-uh-SEE], scientists tried to see how fast bats can actually fly. For the study, the researchers observed Brazilian free-tailed bats, which are known to fly as high as two miles above the ground.

A radio transmitter was mounted on a bat while a researcher flying on a small plane tracked the bat’s speed. Results showed that its speed can reach up to 100 miles per hour, faster than swallows and swifts, which are some of the fastest known birds. On average, swifts can fly up to only 70 miles per hour.  The researchers also found that bats use flying techniques similar to those used by birds.

The results came as a surprise to the researchers because bats are more commonly known to move at moderate speeds. Studies conducted in the past also claimed that birds are the faster flyers. However, this observation may be biased because there are fewer studies about the flight of bats than on birds.

The researchers also admitted that very little is known about the flying abilities of bats, as previous studies only focused on their echolocation. Echolocation is the ability to find one’s way and hunt in the dark using the sense of hearing.

Researchers say that the probable reason for the lack of extensive study on bats is because they only come out at night. Meanwhile, the study’s lead author encourages more studies on animal flight because findings from these studies can help engineers design machines for flying.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think that scientists should continue to study the flying abilities of bats? Why or why not?
·         What machines can engineers design using information about animal flight?

Discussion B

·         Why is it important for humans to study the behavior of animals?
·         Would you be interested to personally study how animals live and behave? Why or why not?

January 30, 2017