Brazilian Vampire Bats Now Feeding On Humans

Posted: Jan 12 2017, 11:25am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Brazilian Vampire Bats Now Feeding on Humans
Photo Credit: Getty Images
 

While they sound a little freaky, vampire bats aren't actually going to feed on humans. In fact, they are thought to feed exclusively on birds.

Until now.

Researchers have discovered that vampire bats in northeast Brazil have managed to feed on humans by night, even if we thought that was impossible.

"We were quite surprised," Enrico Bernard from the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil told New Scientist. "This species isn’t adapted to feed on the blood of mammals."

Theoretically, that should keep us safe.

So how did this particular bat switch from avian blood to mammal blood?

Bernard and his team report:

"Mammal and bird blood differ in their composition, mainly in terms of nutrient composition. Bird blood, for example, has higher amount of water and fat, whereas mammal blood is rich in dry matter, mainly proteins.

Studies on the feeding physiology of the common vampire bat D. rotundus showed that this species has physiological characteristics that allow higher efficiency in protein processing.

On the other hand, species with a preference for bird blood, such as D. youngi and D. ecaudata, have higher ability to process and use large amounts of fat found in the blood of their prey."

They also found something quite strange. They looked at 15 fecal samples that contained bird DNA, but found that some also contained human and bird DNA, evidence that they were feeding on both.

The team thinks that this all may have to do with deforestation in the area. 

But the question is - will this pose a huge risk to humans? For now, we have to wait and see.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.

 

 

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