Expert Voices

Why I Love ... Bats, the Only True Mammalian Fliers

A Chiroptecrest bat habitat backlit by the rising sun.
A Chiroptecrest bat habitat backlit by the rising sun. (Image credit: David Murphree)

David Murphree is an architect, artist and designer based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He contributed this thought piece, part of the “Why I Love . . ." series, to LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Chiroptera. Bats. The only true mammalian fliers.

Our small Microchiroptera cousins have been flying the Earth's night atmosphere for 53 million years. The night skies of North America once bristled and darkened with millions upon millions of hundreds of species of bats, until the omnipresent Holocene Extinction. Human overpopulation has decimated the original population of bats to less than three percent. 

A Chiroptecrest bat habitat designed by David Murphree. Using specific requirements required for indigenous bat species, he creates each tower to stand 18 feet tall with a wing span of 10 feet. Each wing is divided into six separated chambers that maximize ventilation and crawl space and include a micro-groove texture to provide roosting bats with stability. (Image credit: David Murphree)

It is within this massive void of absence that I work.

The fact that our small and beautiful cousins can navigate the night sky acoustically has fascinated me endlessly. Through millions of years of evolutionary emergence, they have developed extraordinary sensory perceptions to actively map four dimensions in the acquisition and dispatching of flying insect prey through echolocation. 

Seventeen feet of spherical dynamic awareness: Aerodynamically, thermodynamically, acoustically and visually activating the night sky in a dance with three dimensions we cannot comprehend . . . the fact that eye make a mark in the world is of little significance in the fields of energy but I make a quantum curve in the space of awareness.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.