McCracken Featured in Nat Geo’s Bats Versus Batman Story

With the Lego Batman movie premiering recently, National Geographic took a whimsical look at seven ways in which bats are like the fictional Batman character. Nat Geo turned to Gary McCracken–UT professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and one of the world’s leading experts on bats–for a question about bats’ built-in superpowers.

McCracken was lead author on a study that showed that the Brazilian free-tailed bat can achieve flight speeds that are faster than those previously documented for any bat or bird. They are achieving short bursts of ground speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. He and his collaborators used using a novel airplane tracking method to follow the bats.

“While the bats do not need a Batmobile to travel at these speeds, we did use an automobile to evaluate the precision of our airplane tracking,” McCracken told Nat Geo.