What are the similarities and differences between the bat, bird, and insect?

What are the similarities and differences between the bat, bird, and insect?  

The bat is a mammal, whereas the bird and insect are not mammals. 

The bat and bird have two legs, whereas the insect has six legs.

The bat, and many species of birds and insects can fly. The bat is the only mammal that can fly. 

The bat, bird, and insect fly in different ways.

Bat (left), bird (middle), and insect (right)

The bat has ‘wings’ but it does not have feathers. The bat has five fingers with a thin membrane from its chest and back that covers its long fingers. The bat flies by spreading its fingers, arching its wings, and pushing downward, resting on the uplift of the wings, and pushing downward again. It does not have enough power to lift itself off the ground, so it drops from a branch or perch. 

The bird flies by flapping its wings upward, forward, and downward. All birds have feathers, but not all birds can fly – such as the kiwi, emu, rhea, and ostrich. 

The insect does not flap its wings. The insect flies by a direct flight mechanism or an indirect flight mechanism – both through the use of flight muscles on the base of each wing. Some insects use a direct flight mechanism in which two sets of flight muscles work at the same time to move the wings up and down, up and down. Most insects use an indirect flight mechanism by distorting the shape of the thorax, which makes the wings move.

Most insects move the forewings (front wings) and the hindwings (back wings) at the same time because they are locked or hooked together. Some insects move the forewings and hindwings independently of each other – as the forewings go up, the hindwings go down. However, both ways also move the wings backward and forward, and some rotating. 

Bat (Fruit Bat)
Bird (Pelican)
Insect (Fly)

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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