Shape-Shifting Bat Tongue Mops Up Nectar: Scientific American
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Stashed in: Bats
A bat that uses blood flow to reshape its tongue while feeding could help inspire the development of shape-shifting medical instruments, according to a new study.
Scientists have known for a long time that the tongue of the nectar-feeding bat Glossophaga soricina was covered with tiny hairs, but these structures were considered to be passive and unable to move on their own, like the strings of a floor mop. The hairs were thought to have developed as a means of increasing the tongue's surface area to help the bat gather nectar as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Recently, however, scientists at Brown University in Providence, R.I., decided to take another look at the bat's tongue. They were prompted by another study, which found that, contrary to nearly 200 years of conventional wisdom, the tongues of hummingbirds are dynamic structures.