The Brazilian free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) exhibits a highly vascularized, hairless thermal window (or "radiator") on the proximal ventral surfaces of extended wings and body. We identified this character using thermal infrared imaging and investigated the vasculature using barium sulfate enhanced microcomputed tomography (micro-CT). Micro-CT images revealed unique arrangements of arteries and veins in the region of the radiator positioned perpendicular to the axis of the body. Coupling micro-CT imaging with analysis of surface temperature profiles, we concluded that radiators aid in thermoregulation during flight in variable environments. This study represents the first application of contrast enhanced micro-CT to visualize vasculature of bats and thus exhibits a promising technique for further investigations of cardiovascular function and anatomy in bats.
- Advanced visualization
- Barium sulfate
- Vessel imaging
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics