Brown long-eared bats in Belgium


This August 2017 video shows brown long-eared bats in Belgium.

Marc Gorrens made the video.

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How young bats learn language


This video from the USA says about itself:

Bat Biology in Pennsylvania. Part 1 of 2

17 February 2010

A day in the field with Pennsylvania biologist Greg Turner. Filmed in an iron ore mine near Danville PA. Film and music by Van Wagner.

This video is the sequel.

From PLOS Biology:

Young bats learn bat ‘dialects’ from their nestmates

Language acquisition not limited to human beings

Young bats adopt a specific “dialect” spoken by their own colonies, even when this dialect differs from the bat “mother tongue,” a new study publishing 31 October in the open access journal PLOS Biology shows. By offering insight into the evolutionary origins of language acquisition skills, the study, led by Dr. Yossi Yovel of Tel Aviv University, and his students Yosef Prat and Lindsay Azoulay, calls into question the uniqueness of this skill in humans.

For the research, the team raised 14 pups with their mothers in three different colonies. In these laboratory colonies, the scientists used speakers to play three specific subsets of natural bat vocalizations. The researchers exposed the young bats to the recordings over a period of one year, until they reached adulthood.

Although the young bats were exposed to their mothers’ ‘normal’ dialect and could communicate with their mothers, each group developed a dialect resembling the one they were exposed to through the recordings.

“The difference between the vocalizations of the mother bat and those of the colony are akin to a London accent and, say, a Scottish accent,” Dr. Yovel explains. “The pups heard their mothers’ ‘London’ dialect, but also heard the ‘Scottish’ dialect mimicked by many dozens of ‘Scottish’ bats. The pups eventually adopted a dialect that was more similar to the local ‘Scottish’ dialect than to the ‘London’ accent of their mothers.”

“The ability to learn vocalizations from others is extremely important for speech acquisition in humans, but it’s believed to be rare among animals,” Dr. Yovel says. “Researchers have believed that this is what makes human language unique.

Songbirds are the most common animal models for ‘vocal learning,” and they learn songs from specific tutors. These studies typically indicate that a bird learns to sing from one parent. But this study shows that bats listen and learn from an entire colony of several hundred bats, not just from their parents. “In other words,” says Yovel, “young bats pick up the dialect vocalized by their surrounding roost-mates.”

The researchers will next examine how the acquisition of a new dialect influences the ability of bats to integrate into foreign colonies. “Will they adopt the local dialect or will they be rejected by the group? Or maybe the local colony will change its dialect to adopt that of our bats,” Dr. Yovel says. “There are many interesting avenues yet to explore.”

‘Vampire’ animals feeding on blood


This video says about itself:

7 June 2012

When it comes to feeding, this thumb-sized bat definitely sides with Dracula. Vampire bats are the only mammals on an all-blood diet — and an unsuspecting cow is the perfect prey.

By Susan Milius, 4:00pm, October 30, 2017:

Scary as they are, few vampires have a backbone

Only a handful of the world’s vampires are vertebrates

Halloween horror aside, vampires are really pretty spineless.

Most have no backbone at all. By one count, some 14,000 kinds of arthropods, including ticks and mosquitoes, are blood feeders. Yet very few vertebrates are clear-cut, all-blood specialists: just some fishes and three bats. Why hasn’t evolution produced more vertebrate vampires?

The question intrigues herpetologist Harry Greene of Cornell University, who “can’t think of a single example among amphibians and reptiles,” he says. (Some birds are opportunists, sneaks or outright meat eaters, but they don’t have the extreme specialization of bats).

Kurt Schwenk of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, who studies feeding morphology, comes up empty, as well. As he muses over what animals might have precursor biology that could lead to blood feeding, “a leechlike or lamprey-like blood-sucking tadpole should be a real possibility,” he says. The idea gives him “the heebie-jeebies,” but some tadpole species have already evolved mouths that can cling, and plenty of tadpoles are carnivorous.

Looking at the question from a different point of view — asking what would favor, or not, the evolution of blood feeding—he comes up with a less disturbing answer. For carnivorous animals, eating meat is nutritionally better than sipping blood alone, he says. So vampirism might not offer much of an advantage. “If you don’t need to be light and you’re not a parasite,” he says, there’s “no point in limiting yourself to blood.” So maybe vampiric tadpoles aren’t part of some creepy future after all.

Some adult fishes have evolved blood feeding, even mainstream vertebrates with jaws and bones (unlike cartilage-only jawless lampreys). Among the clear-cut bony examples are some Vandellia canidru catfishes, which fasten onto a gill of a much larger fish and let the fish heart pump sustenance into them as they nestle inside the protected gill chamber. (This is different from the supposed, or maybe mythical, tendency of some canidru catfishes to misunderstand fluid streams and swim up the urethras of humans in the water).

Among vertebrates, vampirism inside or outside of gills might have arisen from ancestors that hitchhiked on big fishes and nibbled off parasites, in the same way modern remoras (also known as suckerfish) do, suggests parasitologist Tommy Leung of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia. Biologists already know about parasite-picker species, such as some cleaner fish, that will cheat and nip mucus or scales if they can get them. Actual blood-sucking cheats could be mere geologic ages away from that evolutionary step. Vertebrates may have relatively few vampires, but a greater number of almost-vampires.

Full-scale vampirism “is a tough way to make a living,” says William Schutt of Long Island University in Brookville, NY, and author of a book on the topic, Dark Banquet. But also, he adds, one big reason why there are fewer vertebrate vampires than arthropod bloodsuckers may be in the numbers. There are just fewer vertebrates: an estimated 60,000 versus a whopping 10 million arthropods.

Prehistoric bat ate mammals


This video says about itself:

11 July 2014

Secrets and Mysteries of Bats – Nature Documentary

This 48-minute documentary explores the world of bats and the scientists who study them — including the late Donald Griffin, a Harvard zoologist who was the first to describe their echolocation ability in the 1940s. Using 3-D graphics to recreate the bats’ acoustic vision and shooting with infra-red and high-speed cameras, this film offers an exhilarating “bat‘s eye” journey into the night.

By Carlos Albuquerque, 27 October 2017:

Prehistoric bat munched on mammals

Known from fossils found in Eocene-aged rocks in Europe and Africa, this ancient bat didn’t eat fruit or insects, like most living bats. Instead its teeth show it focused on larger targets.

As a group, bats are unfairly maligned as flying monsters. Unless you’re a bug or a banana, most bats are fairly harmless. Nonetheless, as nocturnal animals with features considered aberrant by human beings, bats have captured the imagination of cultures around the world as flying demons. And one particular extinct genus doesn’t ease the mind when it comes to these stereotypes.

Few prehistoric animals can be as lucky as the bat Necromantis. It has just such a wonderfully over-the-top name, literally “death eater.” Nothing could be more perfect than a monstrous name for what was, in life, a cute flying mammal.

Necromantis fossils were first found in Eocene age rocks in France, but more recently they have also turned up in Tunisia, showing a wide range across the eastern hemisphere. A variety of other bat taxa can be found in the early Cenozoic of Africa and Europe, but few are present in both continents, even during the various periods of faunal exchange between both continents.

Though its exact wingspan isn’t clear, Necromantis was one of the largest bats living in its environment. What really set it apart from its contemporaries were its jaws and teeth.

The skull of Necromantis bears a tall ridge called a sagittal crest anchoring the muscles that close the jaws and massive canines and molars similar to the carnassial teeth of carnivorous mammals. These dental features are unique among bats, as even modern carnivorous bats lack carnassials.

Necromantis was decidedly specialized for carnivory, with its carnassial-like teeth allowing for more efficient cutting and butchering of flesh than any other bat. The stout lower jaw also suggests that the bite was focused on crushing action. These features show it was the bat most dedicated to carnivory so far known, it may have scavenged, and could probably hunt larger prey like mice, birds, or even other bats.

The structure of the inner ear shows that the head was held with its snout angled downward, a feature seen in modern leaf-nosed bats. They echolocate by emitting sounds from their nostrils, and Necromantis may have too. The fleshy, leaf-shaped nasal extensions are thought to help with echolocation, and Necromantis may have been similarly equipped.

Like the carnivorous marsupial Anatoliadelphys, Necromantis was probably some odd evolutionary experiment in mammalian carnivory. Their region of the globe was also occupied by many odd animal groups such as hyaenodonts and the enigmatic ptolemaiidans.

References:

Anthony Ravel; Mohammed Adaci; Mustapha Bensalah; Anne-Lise Charruault; El Mabrouk Essid; Hayet Khayati Ammar; Wissem Marzougui; Mohammed Mahboubi; Fateh Mebrouk; Gilles Merzeraud; Monique Vianey-Liaud; Rodolphe Tabuce; Laurent Marivaux (2016). “Origine et radiation initiale des chauves-souris modernes : nouvelles découvertes dans l’Éocène d’Afrique du Nord”. Geodiversitas. 38 (3): 355–434. doi:10.5252/g2016n3a3.

Gunnell GF & Simmons NB, Evolutionary History of Bats: Fossils, Molecules and Morphology, Cambridge University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-521-76824-5

No fruit bats, no durian fruit


This video says about itself:

14 May 2015

A Cave Nectar Bat is pollinating durian flowers in Thailand. The durian is the king of South East Asian fruits, selling for billions of dollars annually. However, every flower must be pollinated by a bat in order to set fruit, even when grown in orchards.

From the University of Nottingham in England:

Durian industry could suffer without the endangered fruit bat

October 3, 2017

Scientists have discovered that Southeast Asia’s endangered fruit bats — commonly known as flying foxes — play an important part in the pollination of the iconic and economically important durian tree.

Using camera traps, researchers collected video evidence showing the island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) pollinating durian flowers, leading to the production of healthy durian fruit. Their study — Pollination by the locally endangered island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) enhances fruit production of the economically important durian (Durio zibethinus) — has been published in the Journal of Ecology and Evolution.

The video footage was captured on Tioman Island by a team led by Dr Sheema Abdul Aziz as part of her PhD at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (France) in collaboration with the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Dr Sheema said: “These are very important findings because they shed more light on the crucial ecosystem services provided by flying foxes. Previously it was known that the smaller, nectar-feeding bats are pollinators for durian — but many people believed that flying foxes were too large and destructive to play such a role. Our study shows the exact opposite: that these giant fruit bats are actually very effective in pollinating durian trees.”

The spikey tropical durian fruit, with its spikey skin and distinctive odour, is highly prized throughout Malaysia and Thailand. A ubiquitous icon of Southeast Asian culture, it is also a lucrative industry, generating millions of US dollars in local and international trade. The new findings suggest these economic profits owe a huge debt to large fruit bats such as flying foxes — as they were previously believed to be destructive rather than beneficial.

Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, from the School of Environment and Geographical Sciences of the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and one of the coauthors of the study, said: “The durian is a fascinating plant that, with its flowers pollinated by bats and its seeds dispersed by large animals like elephants, beautifully exemplifies the importance of plant animal interactions. The durian fruit is particularly famous for its pungent smell and unique taste, adored by most people in Southeast Asia and so often misunderstood — abhorred? — by westerners. We hope this study brings attention to the urgency of conserving flying foxes in Southeast Asia.”

Flying fox populations in severe decline

The island flying fox is already classified as ‘endangered’ on Malaysia’s National Red List.

Large fruit bats of the genus Pteropus are severely threatened by hunting and deforestation. They are often sold and eaten as exotic meat due to an unsubstantiated belief that consuming them can help cure asthma and other respiratory problems. They are also persecuted and killed as agricultural pests, as some people claim that the bats cause damage and economic loss by feeding on cultivated fruits.

Consequently, these factors have led to a severe decline in flying fox populations worldwide.

Repercussions for tropical ecosystems

This study shows that these bats play important roles as seed dispersers and pollinators in rainforests, especially on islands. Their disappearance could therefore have repercussions for tropical ecosystems.

This international team of researchers from Malaysia, France, India, and Thailand, in collaboration with Tree Climbers Malaysia, has found that Southeast Asia’s durian supply could be affected too.

Dr Sheema said: “If people end up hunting flying foxes to extinction, it’s not hard to see that there could be serious implications for Southeast Asia’s beloved ‘King of Fruits‘”.

Dutch birds and bats, good news


This 2012 video is called Birds of Holland in the Spring – PIJNACKER – The Netherlands.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Five Dutch North Brabant province municipalities have committed to conservation of birds and bats. Breda, Den Bosch, Eindhoven, Helmond and Tilburg have agreed with BirdLife in the Netherlands, among other things, to increase the number of nesting places.

This video says about itself:

29 September 2016

Beautiful footage of beautiful mammals, all eighteen species of British bat are featured.

Bat brain signals illuminate navigation in the dark. With new tech, researchers track nerve cell activity as bats dodge and weave. By Amber Dance, 12:30pm, September 20, 2017.