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SELECT wp_posts.*, MATCH (wp_posts.post_title,wp_posts.post_content) AGAINST (' right chemistry: bats don\'t deserve their negative image Breadcrumb Trail Links Opinion Columnists myth Dracula and habits vampire bats have given animals a bad rap, but they beneficial a number ways. Author article: Joe schwarcz • Special Montreal Gazette Bats hang ceiling a cave winter Mikulov, Czechia. Bats have remarkable longevity their size. answer could found a specific chromosomal trait involves your telomeres, but \"hibernation may also play a role, and knows, maybe even sleeping your stomach,\" writes Joe Schwarcz. Photo RADEK MICA /AFP&hellip;') as score FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND ( wp_posts.post_date <= '2022-01-16 10:58:49' ) AND wp_posts.ID NOT IN (619999) AND wp_posts.post_type IN ('post', 'page') AND ((wp_posts.post_status = 'publish' OR wp_posts.post_status = 'inherit')) AND MATCH (wp_posts.post_title,wp_posts.post_content) AGAINST (' right chemistry: bats don\'t deserve their negative image Breadcrumb Trail Links Opinion Columnists myth Dracula and habits vampire bats have given animals a bad rap, but they beneficial a number ways. Author article: Joe schwarcz • Special Montreal Gazette Bats hang ceiling a cave winter Mikulov, Czechia. Bats have remarkable longevity their size. answer could found a specific chromosomal trait involves your telomeres, but \"hibernation may also play a role, and knows, maybe even sleeping your stomach,\" writes Joe Schwarcz. Photo RADEK MICA /AFP&hellip;') ORDER BY score DESC LIMIT 0, 6

Sunday, January 16

The right chemistry: bats don’t deserve their negative image

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SELECT wp_posts.*, MATCH (wp_posts.post_title,wp_posts.post_content) AGAINST (' right chemistry: bats don\'t deserve their negative image Breadcrumb Trail Links Opinion Columnists myth Dracula and habits vampire bats have given animals a bad rap, but they beneficial a number ways. Author article: Joe schwarcz • Special Montreal Gazette Bats hang ceiling a cave winter Mikulov, Czechia. Bats have remarkable longevity their size. answer could found a specific chromosomal trait involves your telomeres, but \"hibernation may also play a role, and knows, maybe even sleeping your stomach,\" writes Joe Schwarcz. Photo RADEK MICA /AFP&hellip;') as score FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND ( wp_posts.post_date <= '2022-01-16 10:58:50' ) AND wp_posts.ID NOT IN (619999) AND wp_posts.post_type IN ('post', 'page') AND ((wp_posts.post_status = 'publish' OR wp_posts.post_status = 'inherit')) AND MATCH (wp_posts.post_title,wp_posts.post_content) AGAINST (' right chemistry: bats don\'t deserve their negative image Breadcrumb Trail Links Opinion Columnists myth Dracula and habits vampire bats have given animals a bad rap, but they beneficial a number ways. Author article: Joe schwarcz • Special Montreal Gazette Bats hang ceiling a cave winter Mikulov, Czechia. Bats have remarkable longevity their size. answer could found a specific chromosomal trait involves your telomeres, but \"hibernation may also play a role, and knows, maybe even sleeping your stomach,\" writes Joe Schwarcz. Photo RADEK MICA /AFP&hellip;') ORDER BY score DESC LIMIT 0, 6

The myth of Dracula and the habits of vampire bats have given the animals a bad rap, but they are beneficial in a number of ways.

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Charles Darwin was prone to dizziness. That is why the Beagle made intermittent stops while the ship sailed up the Chilean coast in 1835. It was during one of these stops that Darwin encountered a “vampire bat.” Europeans of the time had already heard of such creatures from the early explorers of the Americas, and in 1790, the zoologist George Shaw had coined the term “vampire bat.” However, ”before Darwin, there was no first-hand account of the bat eating blood. The naturalist described how with its extremely sharp teeth, desmodus rodentus (the bat’s scientific name) strikes an animal and uses its tongue to lick the dripping blood. It’s not about sucking!

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Shaw’s use of “vampyre” to describe the bat was clearly based on the mythology that had been spreading from central and eastern Europe about the dead rising from the grave and feeding on the blood of the living. That myth had become so ingrained that in 1751 it sparked an investigation by Antoine Calmet, a Benedictine scholar who published his findings in A Treatise on Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Reborn from Hungary, Moravia, Bohemia, and Silesia. He described reports of “men who have been dead for several months, return to Earth, talk, walk, infest villages, mistreat men and beasts, suck the blood of their close relatives, make them sick and ultimately cause their death. “The only way to stop the apparitions was to ‘exhume the bodies, impale them, cut off their heads, rip out their hearts, or burn them.” Calmet was taken by the number of tales of vampirism, and although he tried to refute them with suggestions that the “undead “They were actually victims of malnutrition or disease, it was not very convincing. In fact, the myth has not yet had an interest in its heart in modern-day Transylvania.

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The romantic fictional version of the vampire appeared in 1819 with William Polidori’s The Vampyre, followed by James Malcolm Rymer’s Varney the Vampire and Thomas Peckett Prest, in which the bloodthirsty villain is first portrayed with bat wings. Of course, it was Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in 1897, that became the prototype for later versions of the bloodthirsty tale and introduced the story lines of immortality and transformation into a bat.

The popularity of the book and the various film versions of Dracula have saddled bats, especially vampires, with a negative image. Vampire bats actually make up only a small segment of the nearly 1,000 species of bats and are limited to Latin America. No one in Europe or North America should worry about being bitten! In any case, these vampires are not in the habit of attacking humans, although someone sleeping barefoot outside on a very dark night may be bitten on the toe, not the neck. Domestic animals such as chickens, cows, horses, and pigs are common prey, which presents a problem because vampire bats can reduce livestock farmers’ profits by infecting cattle with rabies. This has resulted in misguided vampire control programs using poisoned baits, such as bananas. While all other species of bats eat fruit, vampires only consume blood. Innocent bats thus become victims, with ecological consequences, as they eat insects and serve as pollinators. They are the main pollinators of the agave plant. No bats, no tequila!

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Bats live in colonies, often several thousand. And they produce copious amounts of excrement. Extremely useful poop! The high content of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium makes bat “guano” an ideal fertilizer, which explains why before the discovery of oil in Texas, it was the state’s most important export. Potassium nitrate, better known as saltpeter, can also be extracted from guano. Along with sulfur and charcoal, it is a critical component of gunpowder and explains why during the United States Civil War the protection of bat caves was of the utmost importance to the Confederate Army. Ships from the north had blocked southern ports and prevented the importation of gunpowder, making bat guano the only source of saltpeter.

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Bat feces are flammable and also produce methane gas when it decomposes. A group of Kentucky settlers who came to Texas to extract guano from a bat cave in 1854 learned this the hard way. The story is that lightning struck near the mouth of the cave and ignited the methane that had accumulated. There was a reverberating explosion. The name of the city they founded? Blowout, Texas.

However, the real problem with bats is their longevity. Not quite immortal like Dracula, but they live at least four times as long as other mammals of similar size. Longevity in mammals is often correlated with size, with an elephant living for about 70 years and a mouse, the size of a bat, only one pair. Bats, on the other hand, can live for decades. A bat in Siberia that had been tagged with a microchip set the record in 41 years. So can bats keep the longevity secret of mammals? Adjusting for size, if humans lived as long as bats, we could expect a life expectancy of about 240 years!

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Researchers are obviously interested in exploring the amazing longevity of bats and are examining several possibilities. It seems that in bats, telomeres, those protective DNA segments at the tips of chromosomes, do not shorten with age as in other mammals. This offers better protection against chromosomal damage when cells divide. Hibernation can also play a role, and who knows, maybe even sleeping on your stomach. Finally, bats can even provide us with novel drugs. An enzyme in saliva that prevents the victim’s blood from clotting, making it easier to sip, is being studied as a possible treatment for strokes caused by blood clots. In an imaginative way, it has been called Draculin.

[email protected]

Joe Schwarcz is Director of the Office of Science and Society at McGill University (mcgill.ca/oss). Presents The Dr. Joe Show on CJAD Radio 800 AM every Sunday from 3-4pm

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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