Taking Inventory: Phantom Membrane

The grimmest Minecraft item yet? Possibly!

Hello there, little kitty! It’s so nice to see you again. You were out all night. Were you out hunting? Of course you were, and it looks like you’ve brought me a present. Wait... what even is this? It’s so beige and stringy... oh. Oh no. It’s our item of the week. It’s a phantom membrane. Thanks, kitty! Knew I should’ve gotten a dog.

If the phantom membrane isn’t the ickiest item in Minecraft, then I don’t know what is. One of the game’s newer items, it was added in version 1.13 as a drop from the spooky, flying Overworld monsters called phantoms, which spawn and attack players that haven’t slept in several days.

There are two ways to get your hands on a phantom membrane, if for some strange reason that’s a thing you want to do. The first is to kill a phantom, though there’s no guarantee that every single phantom will drop one. If your sword tears the poor monster’s membrane to shreds, then it’s worthless. The other option is to get a cat. Phantoms do their best to stay away from cats, but very occasionally a cat will catch one and bring its owner the membrane as a gift.

Now you’ve got a chest full of phantom membranes, what do you do with them? Well, you can either use them to brew potions of slow falling by combining it with an awkward potion in a brewing stand, or to repair a damaged elytra in an anvil. Either way, you’re avoiding future fall damage – which seems appropriate for a drop from a flying monster.

The closest thing in the real world to a phantom membrane is probably the wing of a bat. Bats, which are the only mammals that can fly, have a thin membrane called a “patagium” that grows between their bodies and their arms, creating a wing.

Scientists, who clearly have too much time on their hands, have named each part of the patagium – the “propatagium” grows along the top of the wing, from the neck to the first finger. The “dactolopatagium” grows between the fingers. The “plagiopatagium” grows between the last finger and the legs, and the “uropatagium” grows between the two back legs. That last one, the uropatagium, is kind of special actually. It lets the bat steer itself in mid-air, and allows them to be much more manoeuvrable than birds are.

Bats aren’t the only real-world animals to have membranes like this – some other gliding mammals, flying lizards, flying frogs, dinosaurs and even birds have (or had) them. 

But when it comes to Minecraft, only phantoms have membranes. So treasure every one that you find, and marvel at this spooky wonder of nature. Good kitty!

Written By
Duncan Geere