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Vampire Bats Run
There's an accompanying video that is downright spooky. My first
association was of pterosaurs... I wonder if the bat skeleton shows
signs of stress and strengthening...
Vampire bats' thirst for blood has driven them to evolve an unexpected
sprinting ability. Most bats are awkward on the ground, but the common
vampire bat can bound along at more than 1 metre per second.
Researchers made the discovery at a ranch in Trinidad, with five adult
male vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus), which they caught using cows as
bait. They put the bats on a treadmill inside a Plexiglas cage and
recorded their movements with high-speed video.
"We knew they could hop and are very fast, but we weren't expecting this.
Instead of walking fast, they ran," says Daniel Riskin of Cornell
University in Ithaca, New York, who reports the results in this week's
The bats' gait fulfilled the definition of 'running' because their strides
took them completely off the ground, as when a horse runs. But their style
was quite different from anything the researchers had seen in other
As the bats are built for flight, with winged forelimbs that are much
stronger than their hind legs, they have developed their own unique
running technique. They land on their hind legs, rock forwards on to their
wrists, then launch themselves up and forward with their forelimbs before
landing again on their back legs.