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Classical Music

Outdoors: Crepey bats


The annual Gilbert and Sullivan operetta used to be a highlight of the Interlochen camp season. Usually, one or two bats made an appearance sometime during each show.

This was particularly appropriate during the performance of "The Sorcerer," when John Wellington Wells referred to bats as "creepy things with wings."

Or did he say "crepey"?

Apparently, the original Gilbert lyrics have sometimes evolved over time.

The truth is, bat wings do resemble the thin, crinkled fabric known as crepe.

Understand that the wing of a bat is equivalent to the arm of a human. The inside bend of the wing is the elbow, and the hook at the top is the thumb.

The other fingers are bracing for the wing.

According to nature writer Sylvia Johnson, "When a bat folds his wings, they do not become loose and baggy as does the cover of a folded umbrella. Thousands of wrinkles and puckers shrink the wing. The puckers are created by the pulling action of tiny muscles between the two layers of wing membrane."

Those tiny muscles enable these winged mammals to fly, as demonstrated by generations of bats that have performed amazing maneuvers in the spotlights of the Kresge stage.