Natures wonders: Bat tongue pump (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Monday, September 28, 2015, 18:46 (972 days ago) @ David Turell

Nectar runs up the tongue in waves:

"Intrigued as to how Costa Rican Orange Nectar Bats pull nectar from plants, the team set up a high-speed video camera next to a test tube with a clear liquid meant to serve as nectar and recorded several of them in action. In studying the video, the researchers discovered that the bat lowered its tongue into the liquid and then simply held it there while the liquid miraculously made its way up the tongue and into the mouth. Closer examination showed that the tongue had two grooves (which were open to the air) along its length and that tiny muscles appeared to be undulating along the sides of the groves as the liquid was pulled up—serving as a pumping mechanism of some sort.

"The researchers cannot say for sure what is going on, but suspect two forces are at work: capillary action and muscle force. They believe it is likely the liquid is held in the grooves by capillary action, and that the tiny muscles somehow force the liquid to move upwards, against gravity—sort of like allowing one end of a sponge to rest in water while continuously wringing out the water that is pulled into other parts. The result is an odd, unique and efficient means for drawing nectar from a flower. They note that the unique physiology of the mouth suggests that the bats evolved their way of eating independently of other species."

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