Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Andean Bats

More bats! The NY Times brings us the story of this nectar-eating bat from Ecuador. The 2-inch long bat has a tongue 3.3 inches long! This is proportionally the longest tongue of any mammal and the second-longest (behind the chameleon) of any vertebrate. This bat keeps the tongue in its chest - it is anchored between the heart and the sternum. RTWT


Steve Bodio said...

We should ask Jonathan to send pics of "his" nectar- eating bats when he recovers.

I would think another in the tongue competition would be the pangolin, whose tongue is also too long to keep only in its oral cavity. Jonathan Kingdon did a wonderful dissected drawing-- I'll try to scan it if I ever get over this crud (can't blog much because this computer as you know is no laptop and won't fit in bed!)

Darren Naish said...

I immediately thought of pangolins on reading the news about the Tube-lipped nectar bat Anoura fistulata: the pangolin tongue 'roots' on the xiphisternum, a rod-like cartilaginous extension of the breastbone located on the ventral surface of the abdomen. However, while some pangolins have a tongue that is about 50% of body length, the bat's exceeds 60% of length (actually, the original description gave the body length as 64 mm and the tongue length as 60-80 mm, so this is very conservative!).

The species concerned was only described last year. It seems to be widespread, though uncommon, in the Ecuadorian Andes, and perhaps awaits discovery in Peru and Colombia.