5 things we learned about bats from the bat AMA

Posted by Ryan Morejon

FIU biologist Kirsten Bohn studies bats through their unique method of communication: echolocation.

She recently participated in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) where she answered users’ questions and also shed light on some things we definitely didn’t know about Earth’s most misunderstood creature.

Here are 5 of those things.
1. There is zero potential for bats to carry Ebola in the United States

Because bats are vessels for bacteria and disease, the possibility of them carrying Ebola is fairly high in Africa. Not in the United States.

“The species that carry Ebola in Africa do not exist here (nor anything remotely like them). The degree to which Ebola is transmitted from bats to humans is not well understood. And Ebola is also carried by primates which appear to be a more important source.”

2. Bats have vocal dialects

Bats have accents and different ways of communicating – similar to the way cultures pronounce words differently.

“When a bat flies it produces a sonar cry, it then listens to the returning echo and uses the sound to modify their next outgoing sonar pulse. Thus, bats already have some of the neuro-circuitry developed for learning! This is not to say all bats are vocal learners (there are over 1,100 species!) but it would be rather surprising if none do.”

3. Humans are more closely related to rodents than bats are

In a way, humans are related to mice.

“Genetics have determined that bats are in the mammalian group with carnivores and ungulates, not primates and rodents… So – Humans are more bipedal rodents than bats are flying rodents.”

4. Bats and mammals split up on the evolution timeline back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth

Bats used to fly alongside other flying dinosaurs.

“Well if you look at the paw of a mammal and the wing of a bat you can count all the same fingers (five fingers just like us!). Bats also split from other mammals very, very early right when the dinosaurs were going extinct before mice were even mice!”

5. Many bats contract rabies without ever becoming sick

You have nothing to worry about when bats have rabies.

“Actually bats appear to be reservoirs for diseases because they appear to have special features of their immune systems. This means that diseases can remain in the population since they are not lethal.”

To read the full AMA, head to http:/go.fiu.edubatAMA

To read full FIU News story click here.

FIU bat biologist answered questions on Reddit Nov. 3

FIU biologist Kirsten Bohn has made a career out of studying the bat species through their unique method of communication: echolocation.

While fun, her work has also resulted in major policy decisions affecting bats. Most recently, Bohn helped secure endangered status for the Florida bonneted bat – the state’s rarest bat species.

Bohn answered your questions on Reddit during her Science AMA (Ask Me Anything), Monday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m.

Follow the discussion at: http:/go.fiu.edubatAMA

You can also follow the discussion on Reddit’s official AMA app available for iPhone and Android users.