© Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, http://www.batcon.org/
This Thanksgiving holiday - a traditional American celebration - say thank you not only to our increasingly threatened bats in the US, but to all the bats around the world that help bring us fresh fruit and beautiful smelling flowers. Have we told you before that over 300 plant species rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal? Although bats did not make your pumpkin pie today, they do help bring you bananas, peaches, mangoes, guavas, carob, avocados, cashews, dates, figs and other exotic fruit to chew on.
Why else should we thank bats? Bats' role in insect control not only helps farmers and protects crops; bats help keep disease at bay by decreasing mosquito populations. Viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, including West Nile virus, malaria and yellow fever, are severe and life-threatening. Malaria, for example, infects between 200-300 million people annually worldwide, with up to 1 million fatalities per year, most of these young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
And if that's not enough to be thankful for, bat research is proving fruitful in many fields. Scientists are studying bats to learn more about their language, echolocation skills, flight abilities and other unique characteristics. This research could one day yield new medicines, help design controls for unmanned aircraft and much more. To learn about new scientific discoveries related to bats, visit the Year of the Bat science page.
And to find more reasons to give thanks to bats, check out these links - Give thanks to bats! They are the most misunderstood mammals and When you see a bat give thanks.
And thank you to all the bat lovers, conservations and researchers who put bats in the spotlight. Happy Thanksgiving... and don't forget to keep your eyes open at dawn and dusk for bats winging their way through our holiday sky.