Like a Bat out of Hell

Vampire running! from Carl Zimmer on Vimeo.

Watch this video of a vampire bat running. Do it. Most bats are pretty much helpless on the ground, but not the vampires. Mesmerizing, no?

I sometimes write these little nonfiction booklets for people who are learning to speak English. My favorite ones to write are always the wildlife books, because I get to spend a lot of time watching Planet Earth, pretending that it’s “research”. But actually, the research is pretty fun, and I’ve learned a lot of amazing things. Did you know bat wings are covered in tiny, sensitive hairs that enable the creatures to detect wind flow? Or that some bats have to contract their ear muscles when they screech to avoid deafening themselves, because their calls (in a frequency undetectable to humans) are at the same decible level as a rock concert? This helps them stay aloft. Ever since I wrote my special on bats, they’ve been my second favorite animals (first place: orcas). I even asked my editor if we could increase the page count so I could include all the weird information I’d found. So if ever you want to feel kind of terrified and amazed by the scope of our planet, go read the wikipedia pages for bats and orcas. Seriously, do it. 

Video courtesy of Dan Riskin, Brown University.

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