Paleontologists have uncovered the remains of a bat from 100,000 years ago.
Vampire bats get a bad rep due to their frequent association with spooky imagery and gravelly-voiced vigilantes, but in actuality, they’re fairly peaceful creatures. Yes, they do suck blood, but a bat bite only hurts about as much as a mosquito bite. Granted, there’s the risk of rabies, but hey, no animal is perfect. The most interesting thing about bats is how little we know about their ancestors. There are some ancient bat remains on file, but relatively few compared to some other animals. Recently, though, paleontologists uncovered a new entry for the bat book in a cave in Argentina.
In this cave, researchers discovered what is believed to be a jawbone from the extinct giant vampire bat, AKA “Desmodus draculae,” dated back roughly 100,000 years. You can probably guess where that name came from. The existence of this particular species of vampire bat has been known since the 80s, though for a long time the fact that it existed was literally all we knew.
“The significance of the fossils are several, to start with, fossil bat remains are rare in Argentina,” paleontologist Santiago Brizuela of the National University of Mar del Plata in Argentina told ScienceAlert.
“It also confirms the presence of the species at mid latitudes and during the Pleistocene (the only other material of the species in Argentina is isolated but much younger). This is one of the oldest records, it is unknown in the Pliocene.”
— Evolution Soup (@evolution_soup) July 27, 2021
Desmodus draculae is believed to be the largest vampire bat to ever live, hence the “giant” in its title. Of course, that’s only giant by bat standards. Based on the dimensions of the jawbone, it’s believed that the giant vampire bat was about 30% larger than its current, smaller incarnations, with a wingspan of around 50 cm. That’s about the size of an adult rooster, for reference. So it’s certainly a larger bat, but not the kind of thing that would swoop down and steal your girlfriend in the dead of night.