All posts tagged: nectar-devouring species

The Benefits of Being More Bat-Like

The Benefits of Being More Bat-Like

In Linfa Wang’s ideal world, all humans would be just a bit more bat-like. Wang, a biochemist and zoonotic-disease expert at Duke-NUS Medical School, in Singapore, has no illusions about people flapping about the skies or echolocating to find the best burger in town. The point is “not to live like a bat,” Wang told me, but to take inspiration from their very weird physiology in order to boost the quality, or even the length, of human life. They might not look it, but bats, Wang said, are “the healthiest mammals on Earth.” That thought might be tough to square with bats’ recent track record. In the past three decades—from 1994, when Hendra virus jumped to humans, to 2019, when SARS-CoV-2 emerged—at least half a dozen of the most devastating viral epidemics known to have recently leapt into people from wildlife have had their likeliest origins in bats. But bats themselves rarely, if ever, seem to fall ill. Ebola, Nipah, Marburg, and various coronaviruses don’t appear to trouble them; some bats can survive encounters with …