US News How vampire bat friendship is surprisingly like our own

01:50  20 march  2020
01:50  20 march  2020 Source:   nationalgeographic.com

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While she cautions against assuming that other animals’ friendships are anything like our own , she says To study how social bonds between vampire bats persist across radically different contexts The researchers also looked at bonds between mother and offspring, which surprisingly did not

Vampire bat - Friendship is complicated. But vampire bats and their companions may offer us a unique How did human friendship evolve? Vampire bats offer a unique opportunity to study the He explains that a casual friend can become an osotua through a courtship- like process in which

a close up of a rock: Common vampire bats roost in a cave in Costa Rica. © Photograph by Nick Hawkins, Minden Pictures

Common vampire bats roost in a cave in Costa Rica.

Vampire bats build friendships in the same way people do, by starting slow and deepening over time into potentially life-saving bonds, according to intriguing new research.

These highly social bats, native to Central and South America, were already known to maintain decade-long relationships, but scientists didn’t know how these connections began.

Now, a new study, published March 19 in Current Biology, shows that the world’s only known blood-sucking mammals develop trust with unrelated individuals first by grooming each other, then eventually regurgitating blood to share—an act of altruism for a species that must eat every three days. What’s more, blood-sharing tends to be reciprocal, with bats more likely to provide a meal to a partner that has shared with them in the past. 

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Researchers studied vampire bats in captivity over 15 months that were brought together from two geographically separate roosts. Vampire bats commonly regurgitate their blood meals to feed roostmates that have been unsuccessful at getting their own meal of live animal blood.

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“In vampire bat relationships, we saw that the history of interactions mattered, and the social environment mattered,” says study leader Gerry Carter, a behavioral ecologist at Ohio State University.

The research supports the relatively new “raising the stakes" theory in ecology, which holds that unrelated animals “test the waters” of altruism first with low-cost behaviors, ie. cleaning each other’s fur, and then work up to more costly investments, in this case, sharing food. (Learn more about why female vampire bats in particular help each other out.)

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Vampire bats 'form friendships ' over time and can rescue hungry roostmates from the brink by regurgitating their blood meals in what looks like a French kiss. The only mammals to feed exclusively on blood, the bats can form deep social bonds by increasingly grooming their peers.

By observing how vampire bats make friends and share food, Carter has figured out some evolutionary facts of friendship that could potentially apply Vampire bats dangle from the corners of the ceiling like fuzzy brown fruit. There is a strange, thick animal scent in the humid Panamanian air.

First proposed in 1998, the theory may hold true in other social animals—including humans.

That’s why studying these social sanguivores may also reveal insights into the complexities of human friendships, he says.

Blood brothers

Vampire Bat © Nicolas Reusens© Vampire Bat To test how these bonds emerge, Carter and his colleagues captured 27 common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus)—one of three known species—from two distant sites in Panama. Active at night, the bats gallop along the ground, approaching their prey on all fours. Razor-sharp teeth slice painlessly into the victim's vein—usually cattle or another large animal—allowing them to lap up the trickling blood with their tongues.

In the laboratory, the scientists placed the bats either in pairs, with one from each location in Panama, or in small mixed groups. They then withheld food from one of the bats and observed how it interacted with its roostmates.

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Female vampire bats form strong social bonds with their mothers and daughters as they groom and share They also form friendships with less closely related bats . Gerry Carter, post-doctoral fellow at the To understand how social bet hedging works for vampire bats , Carter's team monitored social

Much like the mythical vampire that they are named after, those born under the sign of Vampire Bat are mysteriously alluring. They have a natural charm combined with a dangerous edge that draws others to them. Their tendency to lose control emotionally may be off-putting to some, but true friends

After 15 months together, some patterns emerged. Many of the strangers eventually formed grooming relationships, but far fewer of the bats shared blood via regurgitation.

Grooming always came before food-sharing among strangers. And in those that did regurgitate food for others, mutual grooming ramped up before the first exchange of blood and then leveled off.

  How vampire bat friendship is surprisingly like our own What’s more, relationships between strangers were more likely to form when familiar bats weren’t around. When bats were introduced as isolated pairs, they formed relationships faster and more frequently than when they were in large groups.

Raising the stakes

The “raise the stakes” theory is simple and intuitive: You don’t want to invest a lot in helping someone who doesn’t help you back, says Tom Sherratt, a co-creator of the model and a biologist at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

“You test the trustworthiness of your potential partner by making a low-level investment first and then seeing if it is reciprocated,” Sherratt says. If not, no relationship forms and it’s no big deal.

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But WHY is the humble bat associated with vampires , and why are these fascinating creatures so misunderstood? The vast majority of people know Jokes, obviously the bat , especially as vampires don’ t actually exist (right?). Bats have been part of our ecosystem for literally fifty MILLION years.

this is a  close up of an australian bat © ozflash this is a close up of an australian bat “It’s a powerful strategy because it means you can escalate into a trusting relationship, but you also don’t lose out too much if you meet an uncooperative individual.”

But it’s been difficult to demonstrate the theory in animals. Detecting such a pattern would mean introducing random strangers and monitoring what happens over a long period of time—exactly what Carter and his colleagues successfully did here, says Sherratt, who was not involved in the bat research.

Tit for tat

Some people may not like to admit it, but reciprocity is a vital part of human relationships, too, Carter adds.

“Human friendships have subtle contingencies and expectations, but it’s not in anyone’s best interest to make that explicit,” he says.

Think of it this way: “What would happen if one of your friends became completely unreliable?” Carter asks.

“If it’s you making all the investments and they never give anything back, how soon do you start switching away from that relationship and building other relationships?”

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This is interesting!