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December 22 2012

Did learning to fly give bats super-immunity?


Not content with echolocation and being able to sense magnetic fields, when modern bats' ancestors learned to fly, they gained another superpower: immunity to some of the world's deadliest diseases.

Bats carry many diseases, including SARS and Ebola, but very few actually make them sick. For an animal of their size, they also age very slowly, usually being killed by external causes rather than age or disease.

But rather than just evolving to protect the animals from infectious diseases, this incredible immunity may have evolved in response to the extra stresses of flying.

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