It is an aerial maneuver far beyond the capabilities of even the most sophisticated modern aircraft: landing upside down on a ceiling. But it is routine business for bats, and now scientists have learned precisely how they do it.

Researchers using high-speed cameras to observe bats in a special flight enclosure said on Monday these flying mammals exploit the extra mass of their wings, which are heavy for their body size compared to those of birds and insects, in order to perform the upside-down landing.

They land that way in order to roost, as bats do, upside down on cave ceilings or under tree limbs.