Posts Tagged ‘chiropterans’

Bat Macumba, Hey.

3 February 2010

First it was the oral sex.  Then with the boozing.

Now they’re joining gangs?

Someone has got to put a stop to this madness….

Yet another cool bat paper in PLoS today:

Dechmann DKN, Kranstauber B, Gibbs D, Wikelski M, 2010 Group Hunting—A Reason for Sociality in Molossid Bats?. PLoS ONE 5(2): e9012.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009012

I want to make a scansion joke here, but I’ve got nothing.  Here’s this instead:

Central American Bats Know How to Hold Their Liquor

1 February 2010

Friends do let Artibeus fly drunk. Lovingly adapted from a photo by Flickr user J-Fi.

PLoS ONE appears to be trying to corner the market on Bats Gone Wild research. Last year there was this gem which introduced us to the, ahem, catholic sexual proclivities of Asian fruit bats. Today everyone’s favorite open-access web journal brings a sort of thematic squeakuel (yeah, you heard me):

Orbach DN, Veselka N, Dzal Y, Lazure L, Fenton MB, 2010 Drinking and Flying: Does Alcohol Consumption Affect the Flight and Echolocation Performance of Phyllostomid Bats? PLoS ONE 5(2): e8993. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008993

Fruit and nectar eating animals occasionally ingest fermented food. Light-weight Waxwings get drunk and interfere with air traffic.  Tree shrews tough it out like George W. at a Skull and Bones initiation.  Which leaves an obvious question:  what about bats? Pansies or Panzers?

To address this nagging conundrum, researchers dosed several species of fruit-eating Central American bats with enough booze (actually an ethanol and sugar solution–you know, like Smirnoff Ice) to bring them to a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.11.  For comparision, driving with a BAC over 0.08 will land you in jail in most states.  Given their small size, some bats got scheißed, with several individuals testing above 0.30 BAC – which, for normal humans, is black-out, piss-your-pants, you’re-going-to-die-if-your-frat-bros-don’t-call-an-ambulance territory.

Nevertheless, compared to control bats that were fed only sugar water, the soused bats showed no greater difficulty navigating an obstacle course.  Likewise, the bats’ echolocation did not appear to be affected by the libations.  Presumably, they also had no trouble reciting the alphabet backwards.

Prior studies of another fruit-eating bat species, Rousettus aegyptiacus, native to Africa and parts of Asia, did find that alcohol intake reduced their ability to navigate similar obstacle courses.  This suggests that alcohol tolerance might vary by species or region–the authors suggest that fruit ferments more quickly in the American tropics requiring the bats living there to better hold their liquor.  Insert obligatory racist joke about the Irish here.

Incidentally, there are a number of bat-themed cocktails floating around on the internet out there.  This one seems especially disgusting:


– 33 cl energy drink (red bull,battery,gatorade…)
– 4 cl gin
– 10 ice cubes

Mix all. Serve cold.

And if you can still fly straight after one of those – well, more power to you.

Looking like a fool with your bats on the ground

19 January 2010

Another gem from the Oakland Museum of California for this week’s Taxidermy Tuesday.  Despite the throw-away titular joke, this display is actually a clever illustration of the unusual foraging behavior of the Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus).  Like most insectivorous bats, the Pallid Bat can capture prey in flight.  But because it often feeds on large terrestrial arthropods, like this Jerusalem Cricket that is about to get done et up, the Pallid Bat frequently captures its prey on the ground and then carries it back to a roost to eat.  Some other bats have adopted similar secondarily terrestrial habits, most notably the New Zealand bats in the genus Mystacina.

Hehe, titular.

Niche Market Cultural Studies Blogger Still On Strike

26 February 2008


and dip for that matter [groan].

Ironically, I’m holding out for fair compensation when microecos material appears on television. Go figure right?

Otherwise I’d be griping up and down about how “no compelling evidence for echolocation” turned into “NEW BAT FOSSIL PROVES FLIGHT EVOLVED BEFORE ECHOLOCATION” (check out where Icaronycteris and Rousettus fall on their non-logged plots) and “it’s not impossible that Beelzebufo might have munched on hatchling dinosaurs” turned into “GIANT FROG ATE BABY DINOSAURS” (it’s also not physically impossible that dubya likes to wash down his stem-cell shooters with civet urine) etc. etc.

In short, you ain’t missing much.


Ugh, what did you have for lunch? Cow blood?

18 August 2007

Oh sure, we’ve ragged on Science Daily like all the cool kids do, but it remains an indispensable resource for staying on top of news-breaking science. And every once in while they deliver a priceless gem. To wit: “Bat Breath Reveals The Identity of a Vampires Last Victim.” Oh those stable istopists what will they drop into the mass spec next??

Turns out that vampire bats, like us statesers, have developed a taste for Bos taurus, aka “Bossie”, abundant, delectable wild game notwithstanding. The researchers sampled the carbon signature of vampire bat breath and found a signal that proved that the bats were getting their carbon from C4 grass, via cows, rather than native forage, via their natural prey of javelina and tapir who tend to feed more on C3 plants. I’m not sure if the researchers tested the alternate hypothesis that the bats were washing down their blood meal with a refreshing, C4 adulterated Sparks.

You hop on a plane to Central America and fall asleep waiting for a bus: turn to page 63.

You hop on a plane to New Jersey and can’t fall asleep waiting for a bus: turn to page 103.