Science on Tap


man with batThe Incredible World of Bats — Why We Need Them
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Dr. Merlin Tuttle Founder and Executive Director of  Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation and Research Fellow, Department of Integrated Biology, University of Texas at Austin

Bats comprise a fifth of all mammals. They come in an incredible variety, as cute as any panda or as strange as any dinosaur, from tiny bats that live in beetle holes in bamboo to giant flying foxes with six-foot wingspans. They’re found nearly everywhere, are primary seed dispersers from deserts to rainforests, pollinate some of the world’s most valuable crops, and save American farmers billions of dollars annually in avoided pesticide use.  They maintain long-term social relationships similar to those of humans, elephants, and dolphins, share information, and even adopt orphans. 

Details

“Tully Monster” - Tullimonstrum gregarium

fossil

This specimen was collected in northeastern Illinois in the Mazon Creek. The fossils formed approximately 307 million years ago and are preserved in ironstone concretions. These concretions often preserved hard tissues as well as rarer soft-bodied animals, like this “Tully Monster.”

Tullimonstrum gregarium, with its strange body plan, has eluded classification for some time. It has been called a worm, an arthropod, and a mollusk, but most recent studies place it as a basal vertebrate.

American Bamboo DNA Voucher

bamboo

This is a specimen of the bamboo species Arthrostylidium venezuelae. A. venezuelae is one of over 400 species of bamboo that are native to Central and South America. Most American bamboos have small stems and use surrounding vegetation to help them stand upright. This specimen is from Costa Rica and it served as one of the sources of DNA used in a 2012 research paper on the evolution of woody bamboos of the New World tropics. American bamboo diversity and evolution is one of the many research areas that MPM curators have investigated over the years.