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Do All Small Mammals Have Short Lifespans?

When it comes to living a long life, bigger is generally better. Whales and elephants, for example, live many more years than mice and chickens, and every pet owner knows that people outlive cats and dogs. But there are some creatures that apparently never got the news, and scientists have been trying to understand what sets them apart. In a study published in 2019, researchers from the University of Maryland identified four types of bats that tend to survive for much longer than other mammals of similar size. The bats they investigated had lifespans that reached into a fourth decade, which is roughly eight times longer than would be expected based on size alone. The research was intended to analyze factors that might influence longevity, including habitat and size difference between the male and female of a species. The study results indicated that bats that hibernate farther from the equator tend to live longer, which could mean that a creature's ability to adjust its body temperature to acclimate to colder environments allows it to live an extended existence. The bats included in the study included the vampire bat, the horseshoe bat, the long-eared bat, and a member of the mouse-eared bat family.

All about bats:

  • Bats are the primary pollinators for more than 300 types of fruit, including avocados, mangoes, and bananas.
  • While other mammals can glide -- the flying squirrel, for example -- the bat is the only mammal capable of true flight.
  • Most bats rest by hanging upside down; when they wake and let go of their grip, the drop gives them the momentum needed to fly.
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