Vampire bats are nippy runners | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Vampire bats are nippy runners

PTI | ByAgence France-Presse, Paris
Mar 19, 2005 08:59 PM IST

The blood-sucking species has long intrigued scientists.

Vampire bats are astonishingly good runners, thanks to an evolved skill to help them sneak up on their prey, says a study published on Thursday in the British science weekly Nature.

The blood-sucking species has long intrigued scientists.

HT Image
HT Image

Bats are the only mammals that can fly but have become so specialised at flight that, over the millennia, they have almost lost the skill to move on the ground.

Unlock exclusive access to the latest news on India's general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now! Download Now!

The big exception is the vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), which is well known for using terrestrial mobility to creep up on a cow, horse or pig, leap on its back and feast on its blood.

Whereas its cousins can only shuffle along awkwardly on the ground, D. rotundus is the batty equivalent of a breakdancer, able to walk forwards, sideways and backwards and then get flying with a single vertical jump.

Eager to find out more, animal scientists Daniel Riskin and John Hermanson at New York's Cornell University built a special treadmill inside a plexiglass cage and put five adult male vampire bats through their paces, filmed by a high-speed camera.

The animals used a walking gait at low treadmill speeds of up to 0.56 metres (1.6 feet) per second.

They then broke into a loping run, using the forelimbs of their folded-up wings, to propel themselves forward when the treadmill was cranked up.

They zipped along at up to 1.14 metres (3.7 feet) per second — warp-factor speeds by bat standards.

Even though vampire bats demonstrably have the ability to run, they are rarely seen practising this skill in the wild.

The reason, say the scientists: the advent of big livestock herds in Central and Southern America, which has made food so plentiful that the bats see no point in rushing if they fancy a bite.

Tell us what your First Vote will stand for in a short video & get a chance to be featured on HT’s social media handles. Click here to know more!

Get Current Updates on India News, Elections 2024, Lok Sabha Election 2024 Live, Election 2024 Date, Weather Today along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.
Share this article
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, May 23, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On