I recently treated myself to a subscription to New Scientist and from the February issue I read about how incredibly resilient bats are to a good variety of potentially “lethal” pathogens.
Sadly, the knee jerk reaction to learning that bat colonies harbour a plethora of “nasties” (such as ebola, SARS, MERS, rabies, etc) is to destroy. Whereas a more productive response would be to focus on the incredible fact that no significant number of bats actually die from close association with these pathogens.
It appears that bats in general (there are more than 1200 species) owe their resistance and longevity (some 41 years or so compared to a mouse’s 2-3 years) to the evolution of flight, which, amongst other things, required an increase in metabolism along with a suppression of the inflammatory response (which causes many of the complications associated with infectious disease when contracted by a humans).
Thankfully this is now an area of research that is getting some interest, and with any luck, as knowledge increases, the tide of ‘bat discrimination’ will begin to turn.
To date my only bat sculpture has been that of a Lesser Horseshoe bat, pictured here.