Friday, December 30, 2005

Bat Poop-eating Salamander

For some reason this story appeals to me on several levels not the least being my British heritage and their love of scatalogical humor. I would like to subtitle this entry as Eating Bat Poop better than a Big Mac.

The grotto salamander is a cave dweller, as are a number of salamander species around the world. It is an interesting beast that is blind as an adult. As a larval salamander it has functional eyes and often develops outside of caves. The adults live exclusively in caves. Other blind salamanders retain their gills as adults and never leave the water. It was previously thought that Grotto salamanders ate insects and cave shrimp that fed on bat guano. A recent study of a population of salamanders in Oklahoma revealed an unusual feeding habit. It turns out that since so much of the bat guano is undigested insects the bat crap is more nutritious that the shrimp! I love this stuff. The best part of the study was comparing the protein and fat contents of the bat guano, the shrimp, and a MacDonald's big mac. The bat guano came out on top with 54% protein and 1% fat while the Big Mac was 23% protein and 33% fat. The Shrimp was in the middle with 44% protein and 8% fat.


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