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Bats (Martindale’s Reference Desk)

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bat : any of a widely distributed order (Chiroptera) of nocturnal usually frugivorous or insectivorous flying mammals that have wings formed from four elongated digits of the forelimb covered by a cutaneous membrane and that have adequate visual capabilities but often rely on echolocation — Webster

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Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera; with their forelimbs adapted as wings, they are the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. Bats are more manoeuvrable than birds, flying with their very long spread-out digits covered with a thin membrane or patagium. The smallest bat, and arguably the smallest extant mammal, is Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, which is 29–34 mm (1.14–1.34 in) in length, 15 cm (5.91 in) across the wings and 2–2.6 g (0.07–0.09 oz) in mass. The largest bats are the flying foxes and the giant golden-crowned flying fox, Acerodon jubatus, which can weigh 1.6 kg (4 lb) and have a wingspan of 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in).

The second largest order of mammals, bats comprise about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide, with over 1,200 species. These were traditionally divided into two suborders: the largely fruit-eating megabats, and the echolocating microbats. But more recent evidence has supported dividing the order into Yinpterochiroptera and Yangochiroptera, with megabats as members of the former along with several species of microbats. Many bats are insectivores, and most of the rest are frugivores (fruit-eaters). A few species feed on animals other than insects; for example, the vampire bats feed on blood. Most bats are nocturnal, and many roost in caves or other refuges. Bats are present throughout the world, with the exception of extremely cold regions. They are important in their ecosystems for pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds; many tropical plants depend entirely on bats for these services. — Wikipedia

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Phys.org - latest science and technology news stories Phys.org internet news portal provides the latest news on science including: Physics, Nanotechnology, Life Sciences, Space Science, Earth Science, Environment, Health and Medicine.

  • Scientists discover new 'spectacular' bat from...
    on January 13, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    A group of scientists led by the American Museum of Natural History and Bat Conservation International have discovered a new species of a striking orange and black bat in a mountain range in West Africa. The species, which the researchers expect is likely critically endangered, underscores the importance of sub-Saharan "sky islands" to bat diversity. The species is described today in the journal American Museum Novitates.

  • Unsure how to help reverse insect declines?...
    on January 12, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    Entomologist Akito Kawahara's message is straightforward: We can't live without insects. They're in trouble. And there's something all of us can do to help.

  • Museum scientists: Prepare for next pandemic now...
    on January 12, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    It's been more than a year since the first cases were identified in China, yet the exact origins of the COVID-19 pandemic remain a mystery. Though strong evidence suggests that the responsible coronavirus originated in bats, how and when it crossed from wildlife into humans is unknown.

  • Study identifies genetic changes likely to have...
    on January 11, 2021 at 4:31 pm

    A new study, involving the University of Cambridge and led by the Pirbright Institute, has identified key genetic changes in SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—that may be responsible for the jump from bats to humans, and established which animals have cellular receptors that allow the virus to enter their cells most effectively.

  • Torpor: a neat survival trick once thought rare...
    on December 30, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Life is hard for small animals in the wild, but they have many solutions to the challenges of their environment. One of the most fascinating of these strategies is torpor. Not, to be confused with sleep or Sunday afternoon lethargy, torpor is a complex response to the costs of living.