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posted by hubie on Friday June 17, @08:41PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the bats-in-my-belfry dept.

Bats are one of the most misunderstood mammals:

By turns admired and reviled, bats are one of the most mysterious mammals alive. Their nocturnal habits and unique adaptations mean that bat biology still holds many secrets. It is possible that bats may hold the key to understanding diabetes.

When the pandemic started in 2020 and speculation began that a notorious zoonotic "spillover" appeared to have triggered it all, one specific animal was identified almost immediately as a threat to humans—the bat. People feared and, in some cases, even killed them in a futile attempt to stop the virus from spreading.

[...] The BABE project analyzes how bats and other predators help keep the world green. And with over 1,450 species and making up 20% of the mammals on our planet, bats constitute one of the most diverse and geographically dispersed species. As such, they play a valuable role in the global ecosystem by pollinating crops and maintaining plant diversity.

[...] What we do know is that bats are great at gobbling up insects and other arthropods. Sivault and her team look at what and how much the individual species eat. For now, findings have indicated the difference in the strength of arthropod control by bats along different latitudes.

[...] Not many people know it but, bats are helping us to study and prevent human diseases such as diabetes. Some species of the winged mammalian possess genes that allow them to survive on a super-sweet diet of nectar. What this teaches us about diabetes in humans is part of the research being conducted by the Chiroglu project.

[...] "Our research is curiosity-driven, but it has potentially important implications for humans," said Stephen Rossiter, professor of Molecular Ecology and Evolution at Queen Mary University of London. "We, like lab animals, develop diabetes if we live on sugar rich diets. Nectar-feeding bats appear to have evolved unique changes in the metabolic enzymes that might allow them to avoid diabetes and other metabolic diseases."

[...] To successfully protect bats also means getting the public on board. Bats often reside in and breed in buildings during the summer, so they are often seen as pests although in fact they keep the mosquitoes at bay in the surroundings. "It is important to make sure the public understands that coexistence, and more importantly, even cohabitation is possible with bats and facilitates the protection of these animals," said Lilley.

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  • (Score: 2) by legont on Saturday June 18, @12:46AM

    by legont (4179) on Saturday June 18, @12:46AM (#1254118)

    A few years back I was checking my attic before the winter and discovered a bat hanging apparently for the season. I walked close and the bat opened her eyes but did not try to escape. The next day I checked but the bat was gone. I hope it found a better place and survived the winter.

    "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @01:19AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @01:19AM (#1254123)

    I used to live there in the late 80s. The bats that shelter under the Congress St. bridge (if I'm remembering that bridge name correctly) are a sight to see. Go down to the river just after the sun goes down and watch them all stream out for the night. Really cool sight to see. It looks like black wisps of smoke going down the river. And there's not a mosquito to be found anywhere.

    It has been a few decades, so I'm assuming the bats are still there and haven't been gentrified out of the city (with a lot of other things). There are some other caves where you can get a similar experience. They go whizzing by you as they go out to eat for the night.

  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Saturday June 18, @02:19PM (1 child)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 18, @02:19PM (#1254220) Homepage Journal

    I used to live in Winnipeg.
    That city suffered from mosquitos, and could have used a larger bat population.
    Instead, the city sprayed some kind of insecticide mist throughout the city.
    I wonder if that also reduced the bat population.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @07:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @07:13PM (#1254259)

      I also wonder how much it reduced the human population too.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @08:01PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, @08:01PM (#1254263)
    I'm pretty sure out of 7+ billion people there are some humans who can have normal blood sugar level and not get diabetes or suffer the effects of diabetes despite drinking large amounts of sugar water. Might learn more human applicable stuff from them, since they're humans and not bats.

    Might also be useful to study those hyper-obese humans who survive longer than a few decades. After all most humans would die way before they get that obese. Probably not politically correct though...

    Studying other animals is OK but too often the reason why Animal X can do XYZ and humans can't turns out is because Animal X is Animal X. e.g. like why don't blue whales get cancer at the same rates as humans even though whale cells need to multiply a lot more times to get to huge whale sizes? The answer is they have more anti-tumour genes. Whoopee, good luck getting those genes if you're a human.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @07:51AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @07:51AM (#1254361)

      Gene splicing.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @09:18AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 19, @09:18AM (#1254363)