Don't Let Me Stop You

What the heck, you'll do what you want anyway.

Bat Family Values

Posted by Dan Draney on September 23, 2005

Mrs. Abe pointed out this story to us in the Lincoln Journal Star Online. Everyone loves to anthropomorphize animal behavior, but this is ridiculous:

Female bats are faithful to their mates
Female horseshoe bats are family-minded creatures, coupling with the same male bat year after year, scientists have found.

Now isn’t that sweet; they mate for life. But wait the families are even closer than that.

To keep their kinship links even tighter, mothers, daughters and grandmothers often pick the same male bat to mate with.

So they’re bat versions of those renegade Mormon polygamist colonies.

The findings, published recently in the journal Nature, emerged from a study of a population of greater horseshoe bats residing in the British countryside. The colony, which has been monitored since the 1950s, consists of dozens of breeding females that live in the attic of a Victorian gothic mansion, raising their young together and sharing foraging sites and roosts with their kin. Each fall, the females fly out to mate with solitary males that reside in caves in the surrounding countryside, then come back to the mansion.

Mrs. Abe suggests that if the female bats can develop artificial insemination they won’t need to visit these dank caves at all. We note, however, that the females all live in the mansion, while the males are stuck in caves. Without the male bats, who would support these females in the style they have become accustomed to?

The close genetic relatedness probably helps fuel cooperation between the bats, Rossiter said. The study also suggests that many male bats are passed over in favor of a few bats that — for reasons unknown — are considered more desirable and get the lion’s share of the mating opportunities.”

Those would be the football players, no doubt.


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