Taking a break from dino stuff to do bat stuff!
Desmodus rotundus skull, dorsal view. AKA the Vampire Bat. These things look really intense and scary as skulls! Spoiler: irl, they’re mega cuties and total doofuses. They’ll still bite you, though, and you probably won’t notice it happened until you see the blood streaming down your arm.
Story time! Once upon a time, doing research in Costa Rica, we were flight caging a vampire bat. Being a very high-tech operation, our flight cage was a bunch of bedsheets duct-taped together and suspended from a tree. It had no bottom (which caused a lot of spider problems for me, whoops), and was not super sturdy.
Normally, a flight cage procedure goes as follows: fit bat with weighted harness, fly bat, record if flight was successful, repeat. In order to fly a bat, you either just let them go and they flip out and fly around or you can hang the more mellow ones from your finger and then drop your hand down and they’ll take off.
This particular bat, however, was having none of our shit. We got him in his harness, but he just did not want to play our science game. Instead of flying or even failing a flight, which results in a slow flutter to the ground, this bat just nosedived. The thing about vampire bats is that they can run. Really fast, on all fours, using their wings. It’s crazy cool.
But anyway, this bat hits the ground and just books it. Pchooo, right out the bottom of the flight cage into the jungle, weighted harness still attached. So the master’s student who was helping me take flight data just throws down the little bag of weights and dive-tackles the bat, through the tent, halfway down a ridge. The conversation following went thus:
“Ben? You okay? If you’ve broken your neck, I can’t actually carry you back through a mile and a half of jungle, you’re just going to have to stay there.”
“No, no, it’s good, I got it!”
“Yes okay Ben, but the real question is: are all your limbs intact.”
And this has been bat research stories with Pi.