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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Video: Holy Papillae, Batman!
6 May 2013 3:05 pm
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a nectar-rich flower? For Pallas's long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina), just one. The tiny bats, which live in North and South America, feed mostly on nectar and pollen from flowers. Though they have a cute face, you probably wouldn't want a kiss from one. Each side of the animal's tongue is lined with hundreds of compressed, millimeter-long bristles called papillae. Scientists wanted to see the tongue in action, so they used high-speed video to record the bats feeding on sugar water. As the bats lapped up the solution, the papillae stiffened, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers found that as the tongue extends, its muscles contract, squeezing blood into the tongue tip and then the papillae, which become erect. That increases the tongue's surface area even more, which likely helps rake in more delicious nectar. The researchers hope that studying the bat tongue could serve as a model for surgical tools that would, for example, widen blood vessels or the small intestines from the inside.
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