Sick fruit bats exhibit social distancing
On July 6, Zuckerman Postdoctoral Scholar Dr. Kelsey Moreno and her colleagues published a paper in the journal bioRxiv, demonstrating that in addition to following many aspects of classical mammalian sickness physiology and behavior when faced with a bacterial-type immune challenge, Egyptian fruit bats exhibit self-imposed social distancing. This is the first time social self-isolation has been recorded in a mammal, rather than isolation through avoidance by conspecifics or as a by-product of lethargy. Such isolation behavior stands in stark contrast to normal behavior in this species, reflecting a temporary shift in needs to prioritize survival.
Fruit bats use cognitive maps to navigate
A week later, Dr. Moreno’s colleague in the School of Zoology at TAU, Professor Yossi Yovel, released another fruit bat breakthrough paper, along with colleagues. Published in Science, these researchers showed that just like humans, fruit bats build a visual cognitive map of the space around them, making use of conspicuous landmarks. Prof. Yovel explains: “in an experiment never attempted before, [the team] tracked bat pups from the moment they spread their wings until they reach maturity, in order to understand how their navigation capabilities develop.” The Science article received widespread media attention, including in XinhuaNet, the Jerusalem Post, and Haaretz.