"Drunk" bats can fly properly

Posted By: Staff
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Washington, Feb 10 (ANI): In a new study, scientists have determined that bats have no trouble flying under the influence of alcohol.

According to a report in National Geographic News, the study found that the tropical bats of Central and South America can fly and use their built-in "sonar" just as well while inebriated as while sober, even with blood-alcohol contents that would exceed legal limits for humans.We went into the study fully expecting that some of the species wouldn't be able to hold their drink," said study co-author Brock Fenton, a biologist at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

"But the bats, unfortunately, hadn't read the proposal," he said.

In April 2009 Fenton and colleagues caught 106 bats representing six different species in northern Belize.

The team gave the bats either sugar water or ethanol-the intoxicating agent in liquors-in amounts proportional to the bats' body weights.

The scientists then took saliva samples to gauge the bats' blood-alcohol content (BAC). Some bats had a BAC of more than 0.3 percent.

The flying mammals were placed in a closed obstacle course on the forest floor.

"It's like walking a straight line," Fenton quipped, referring to a common test given to suspected drunk drivers by police -except to succeed, the bats had to maneuver around hanging plastic chains without crashing.

The team also recorded the bats' echolocation calls to see if they would "slur their words," Fenton said.

Bats use echolocation-sound waves that bounce off objects-to sense prey and to navigate.

Surprising the scientists, the buzzed bats passed both tests with flying colors.

The team also discovered that the bat species had varying blood-alcohol contents, suggesting a spectrum of tolerance.

The study determined that tolerance in bats-as in humans-may be dictated in part by how often and how much a bat drinks. (ANI)

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