Monday, 7 November 2005

Bats, blood and brotherhood

First of all, let me welcome you back from your kampung or Hawaii or wherever place you have spent your Eid or Raya at. I hope you had a wonderful time during the blessed days.

The other day, I watched an episode of Human Instincts called Real Life Heroes over the Discovery channel. It talks about the science behind feats of heroism in humans and nature and what causes them to happen. The instinct to survive in times of direness is astonishing, and often in these circumstances, humans and even animals can act in ways that defy believe.

The show highlights stories of strangers helping strangers, friends putting their own lives on the line for the other's sake and family going all out for each other. But for me the part that caught my real attention was the one about the display of altruism by vampire bats.

Vampire bats, in case you still haven't figured it out yet, are the type of bats that feed on blood. Mostly cattles, horses or pigs blood, but on rare occasions humans are also said to be preyed upon. Found in South American countries, these flying mammals are built as stealth and agile attackers. They are light and attack when their victims are asleep, making them blissfully unaware that their blood is being consumed. They also do not actually suck blood, they instead puncture a hole through their victim's skin and lap up the blood that comes out. Their saliva contains draculin, a subtance that stops blood from clotting.

Another thing about these flyers of the night is that they cannot go two days straight without blood. If so they could die and this where the fascinating part comes in. It is discovered that vampire bats often help their family or friends or cavemates who are unable to get a decent shot of good ol' blood by actually giving them some of the blood that they have collected. They regurgitate the blood that they lapped up and give it to the 'blood-thristy' ones through an act that appears to look like a kiss. In exchange, the receiving party returns the good favour by rendering grooming services. A case of one good deed deserves a good-looking fur.

According to scientists, this display of compassion and altruism is quite rare in the animal kingdom. This has certainly painted the vampire bats in a new light (although light may not be something they would actually like very much).

Sure, vampire bats may not win the title 'World's Most Cutest Animal' easily (by normal standards of cuteness, anyway) and they turn out to be such caring creatures towards one another. They are also found to be intelligent and it has been recorded that these bats can respond when their names are being called (some children should take a lesson from this).

Subhanallah. Who would have thought? Not me, that's for sure.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Copyright 2009 introspector. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan