Genomic studies of the SARS-CoV-2 virus strongly suggest that the virus originated in bats and jumped to humans through an intermediary mammal, most likely the pangolin. Here’s what a pangolin looks like:
How exactly the SARS-Cov-2 virus got from a pangolin to a human in the Wuhan market is not clear and we may never know how it happened.
Moving on. In addition to being originators of the SARS-type viruses, bats are really interesting. Here are six super interesting facts about bats and some cool pictures.
1. There are About 1,300 Species of Bat
This means that bats make up about 20% of all mammals in terms of overall number of species! “Bats live almost everywhere on Earth except the most extreme desert and polar regions.” Source.
2. They Vary Hugely in Shape and Size
They are a very diverse species and range hugely in shape and size: “from the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat (also called the Bumblebee Bat) that weighs less than a penny — making it the world’s smallest mammal — to the flying foxes, which can have a wingspan of up to 6 feet.” Source.
3. Bats are the Only Mammals that can Fly
4. Bats Can Fly Super-Fast
The Brazilian Free-Tailed bat has been clocked at 99mph during level flight, making it faster than any bird. From New Scientist: “These are the fastest powered flight speeds documented yet in any vertebrate that is, in bats or birds,” says Gary McCracken of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. “The fastest bird on record for level flight is the common swift (Apus apus), which reaches around [70mph].”
5. Most Bats Actually Have Pretty Good Eyesight
While bats have the ability to use echolocation, most species of bat have pretty good eyesight — some have much better eyesight than humans.
“Research shows that depending on the circumstances, bats sometimes prefer using eyesight to sound when hunting. And many fruit bats, which drink nectar rather than hunt insects, don’t echolocate at all. These species have particularly sharp vision, and some can even see ultraviolet light.” Source.
6. Over 300 Species of Fruits Depend on Bats for Pollination – Without Bats We Wouldn’t Have Chocolate or Coffee
Bats pollinate such human food staples as bananas, avocados, and mangos. “Bats help spread seeds for nuts, figs, and cacao — the main ingredient in chocolate. Without bats, we also wouldn’t have plants like agave or the iconic saguaro cactus.” Source. “Bats are phenomenal for plants and trees, imperative in some places. Many bats eat fruit and, therefore, spread the seeds required to plant more. As some can fly as far as 250 miles in a night, they can spread fruit seeds across vast spaces, ensuring the survival of the plants.” Source.