I vhaant to suck your blooooood!
We know “vampires” in stories drink blood because we’ve heard about it from Dracula. We also (of course) know that vampires aren’t real—at least, not the fanged, garlic-hating, nocturnal monster version, right?
But vampire bats, native to Mexico and Central and South America, are totally genuine little mammals, created by God. They measure about three inches long with a seven-inch wingspan. And yes, they actually drink blood. (Although rather than sucking it, they actually bite a little slit into an animal’s hide and lap it up.) When feeding time arrives, these bats search for horses, cows, pigs, or birds. They will bite humans, too, but very rarely.
Most mammals couldn’t survive on such a liquid diet. Blood is rich in iron and protein but has minimal fats or carbohydrates. How do vampire bats do it?
Scientists finally know.
Researchers compared bats’ genomes, the “blueprint” designs possessed by every organism with more than one cell. The scientists studied vampire bat genomes alongside the genomes of 26 other bat species—and vampire bats came up short. Thirteen of their genes are missing or no longer work.
Over the years, those gene tweaks helped them adapt to an all-blood diet.
Here’s another vampire bat attribute: They help each other find food. They seem to know by instinct what the writer of Ecclesiastes knew: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.” (4:9-10) Ultra-light vampire bats can double their weight in just one feeding. They will die if they don’t eat for just two nights. But in a pinch, well-fed vampires will regurgitate their food to share with a starving neighbor.
“Blood is a terrible food source,” says Hannah Kim Frank, a bat researcher at Tulane University. “It’s totally bizarre and amazing that vampire bats can survive on blood. They are really weird, even among bats.”
You can decide whether you’d call blood-lapping vampire bats cute or horrifying, but no one can deny they’re useful. To help them drink blood, vampire bats carry a particular chemical in their saliva that keeps blood from clotting. People need blood to clot so wounds can heal, but too much clotting can keep oxygen from getting to the heart, lungs, or brain, resulting in a life-threatening stroke or heart attack. Scientists studied the saliva chemical. They used it to make medicine for people with blood clots. See God’s good provision—even through the vampire bat!
Why? Vampire bats show us God’s wisdom because they help one another. They show us His provision because they benefit people who have blood clots.
I think it is cool but horrifying!