Growing up you believe the world is meant to be the way it is. The older I get the more I realise that this is not the case. The world is full of injustices and atrocities that governments and the voice of faith expect us to accept, though with each passing year they grow fewer and fewer, at least one would hope. I have created this blog as a space for me to rant about all things science, politics, philosophy and religion, before it’s too late and the vessel of new atheism propelled by a growing surge in secularism solves all of the world’s problems for good.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Austin: A city of bats

I was watching the documentary Human Planet on ABC tonight and there was a great part about a colony of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) that spend summer in Austin, Texas under the Congress Avenue Bridge. They spend winters in Mexico where it's warmer than Austin's winters.

Tadarida brasiliensis
It's the largest urban bat colony in North America, estimated to consist of as many as 1.5 million bats. They roost and live under this bridge, flying out each evening driven by their hunger. The huge city is illuminated well with each light acting as a magnet for insects. These insects are eaten by the bats, which apparently first arrived in the city in recent years. They consume up to 6 tonnes of insects a night, which equates to 2000 tonnes a year! It was this reason that quashed initial efforts by worrisome citizens, concerned with the threat of the rabbies disease, to remove the bats from the city. It was definitely a good choice as these awesome little guys now attract more than 100 000 people each year wanting to view them fly out from under the bridge bringing in $10 million to the city. One guy has even made a business based solely on these bats by taking out bat watching cruises each summer evening to view them take flight into the city.

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