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NATURE: How Vampire Bats Survive on an All-Blood Diet

vampire bat

Vampire bats have an unusual, blood-only diet that’s high in protein but lacking in other nutrients. Now, a new study hints that “missing” genes may explain how the flying mammals survive on nothing but blood meals, lapped from their victims’ open wounds in the dead of night, The Scientist Magazine reported.

In the new study, posted Oct. 19 to the preprint database bioRxiv, researchers compared the genome of the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) with those of 25 other bat species. The analysis revealed that D. rotundus lacks functional copies of 13 genes that appear in the other bats; these missing genes are either completely absent from the vampires’ genome, or they contain so many mutations that they likely can’t produce functional proteins, study co-author Michael Hiller, a genomicist at the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics in Germany, told The Scientist.

And it turns out, vampire bats might benefit from having ditched these 13 genes. Losing the genes may help them extract nutrients from blood in ways other bats can’t, according to the study, which has not been peer-reviewed.

Full Story From Live Science 


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