The Loh Down On Science

Bat Mobiles

Holy ... crappy science, batman?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down and Science.

And on researchers pulling discoveries out of bat ... bottoms.

Meet Elizabeth Clare, from the University of Guelph in Canada. She picks through predator poop, which contains a lot of information. A claw, a tooth--it can tell you what's been on the menu.

Enter the problematic bat. These beasties actually chew their prey--unlike, say, birds. That makes
it difficult to find useful forensic fragments in their guano.

Clare's solution? She developed a lab method that separates out even microscopic tidbits of wing, leg, whatever, from fully digested guano goo. Extract and sequence each sample's DNA and--Zowie!--the dinner list. With lots of extra detail.

In one test, she identified 130 different insect species from 56 bats. That's about 10 times more data per sample than from traditional techniques.

Even better? Clare can efficiently survey entire ecosystems--with the bats doing all the leg ... er ... wing work.

And, thus, bug-collecting bat mobiles are born.

So what else do you guano know?



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