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Showing posts from March, 2010

The Sucker-Footed Bat (Myzopoda aurita)

Myzopoda aurita ready to cling! - photo by Daniel Riskin
This is the sucker-footed bat, or Myzopoda aurita - myzo meaning "suck," poda meaning "foot." Though contrary to its name and what was previously thought, it does not adhere to surfaces by means of suction but rather by wet adhesion, as research by Daniel Riskin and Paul Racey has discovered.
These little guys (and girls) are two inches long and weigh 1/3 of an ounce. They roost head-up, way up in the furled leaves (that open at the top) of the Traveler's tree in Madagascar. Only six species (out of 1,200) of bats are known to roost in an upright position. They do so because it allows for a quick escape from predators.
Traveler's tree - photo by Daniel Riskin
These Old World bats have flat to slightly convex pads at their wrists and ankles that enable them to cling to the smooth surfaces of the leaves. Or Plexiglas.

Myzopoda aurita climbing on Plexiglas - photo by Daniel Riskin
foot pad of Myzopoda aurita …

Bats & Their Bat Flowers

help...stuck... (Anoura caudifer) - photo by Nathan Muchhala
No, this nectar-feeding bat is not really stuck. (Nor what I would call a dainty eater.) Bats are known to push their heads into bat-flowers to lap up the nectar.
Anoura caudifer - photo by Nathan Muchhala
Anoura fistulata - photo by Nathan Muchhala
Indeed.
(I love these photos! They're so funny to me!) A bat will insert its head into the flower - even when its tongue is longer than the flower's tube. It extends its tongue as much as it needs to, then retracts it, lapping the nectar much like a dog drinks water. By pushing its head into the flower, the bat collects lots of pollen on its head and chest, inadvertently transferring it to the next flower.
Moths are also nectar-feeders; however, when a moth drinks nectar, its tongue acts as a straw. So if a moth evolves a tongue longer than the floral tube, it could potentially partake of the flower's nectar without actually pollinating it. Therefore, the flower is always ev…