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Study: Tongue erections help bats consume nectar

May 07, 2013

Study: Tongue erections help bats consume nectar

A new study finds tongue erections may help bats collect nectar.

New research on bats has revealed curious information about how they eat, leading to possible advances for our own species. Cally Harper, a doctoral student at Brown University, along with a team of researchers, set out to better understand how bats use their tongues when lapping up nectar. Scientists have known that they have hairy-looking tongues; the hairs are termed papillae, similar to taste buds in humans. Anatomists have noted blood vessels in the tongue as well.

“I thought, ‘Oh, that’s really interesting that there are these enlarged blood vessels and these really specialized papillae,'” Harper told LiveScience. “There’s the possibility that maybe blood flow was used to move these papillae during feeding.”

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