Human Anatomy and Physiology

What are the differences between the bat wing and the human hand?



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The bird's wing has a fairly rigid bone structure, and the main flying muscles move the bones at the point where the wing connects to the body. A bat has a much more flexible wing structure. It is very much like a human arm and hand, except it has a thin membrane of skin (called the patagium) extending between the "hand" and the body, and between each finger bone. Bats can move the wing like a hand, essentially "swimming" through the air. The "thumb" extends out of the wing as a small claw, which bats use to climb up trees and other structures. This helps them reach a high "launching point" for flight takeoff. Appropriately, the order of bats is called Chiroptera, Greek for "hand-wing."