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article imageVampire bats vomit up blood to share with others

By Tim Sandle     Nov 21, 2015 in Science
Panama - Stomach turning fact of the week: vampire bats vomit up blood they have recently eaten and share it with their fellow bats.
According to National Geographic, the social interactions of vampire bats are more sophisticated than previously realized. Female vampire bats will sometimes vomit up the blood of a creature they have eaten to share with other bats, as part of a social system designed to ensure the survival of the group.
Vampire bat refers to one of three species. The bats are so-named because their food source is blood, a dietary trait called hematophagy.
Vampire bats live in communities where unrelated females group together and share in the raising of their pups. Unlike other mammals of similar size, and in contrast to other bats, female vampire bats care for their young for a relatively long time — around nine months.
In addition, as the new research shows, the female vampire bats engage in a mutually supportive behavior where they help out other females in the group by sharing regurgitated blood. Researchers have noted that this blood sharing practice happens between a female who has been fortunate to obtain a meal with a female who has been unsuccessful. Biologists call this "reciprocal altruism." This trait has been spotted with common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus.)
The previously unknown behavior was found by placing infrared cameras inside bat caves. The study was carried out by University of Maryland biologist Gerald Wilkinson and Gerald Carter, a researcher at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, where the paper is titled "Social benefits of non-kin food sharing by female vampire bats."
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