Batty architects

Published: Tuesday 15 November 1994

-- Some bats could well be making the belfries they live in. Jae Choe of Harvard University has recently discovered in Panama a bat (Uroderma bilobatum) that constructs sophisticated wigwams in several leafy tiers (BBC Wildlife, Vol 12, No 9).

The bats chewed part of the way through the midrib of the leaves of the Coccoloba manzanillensis tree, causing the leaves to bend under their own weight. The leaves overlap to form a teepee. Interestingly, Choe found that the bats gnawed 9-10 cm away from the point where the leaves meet the stem, leaving them plenty of room to roost and fly in and out. But as the bats went further up the stem, they chewed the leaf midribs closer to it, allowing them to fold over the leaves below.

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