After our recent post about mouse-eating frogs, Burton Lim of the mammalogy department, one of the ROM’s bat experts, decided to fight back for the mammals. Behold Trachops cirrhosus, the frog-eating bat!
Known as the Fringe-Lipped Bat, you’ll notice little bumps around its mouth, which were originally thought to be chemical receptors. Interestingly, this bat manages to avoid chowing down on poisonous frogs. Scientists thought these bats might be able to tell the difference between ‘delicious’ and ‘deadly’ frogs using chemical receptors to ‘taste’ their prey, and in the process learn which ones were good to eat.
We now know that these bats distinguish poisonous from safe species by listening to the frogs’ calls. Researchers at The Ryan Lab at the University of Texas at Austin used recordings of frog calls to determine that the bats only responded to the calls that came from species which were safe to eat. Their website has many more videos and recordings you can watch.
So, the score to date is frogs 1, mammals 1. Let the games continue….