Sunday, January 25, 2009

The biologist's "holy relic"

I'm just back from the first symposium on bat migration in Berlin, Germany. It was two intense days reviewing exactly how little we know about bats that migrate. Aside from lots of head-shaking at our ignorance, the main theme was pooling knowledge about migratory bat kills at wind turbines.

We've known for awhile that most of the bats killed at wind turbines are migrating tree bats. In the north western hemisphere that means Hoary bats, Red bats, and Silver-haired bats. It seems a very similar pattern is happening in Europe as well. I'll write more about this topic for sure, since this will be the focus for my PhD starting next year. For now, it was just a tease, and I must return to my current research on urban bat ecology.

The symposium banquet was hosted at the Museum of Natural History. We dined among the giant dinosaur bones but the highlight surely was this Archaeopteryx fossil -- the first evidence of feathers, the prototype bird. I've seen this image countless times, but to see the actual fossil was thrilling. It is arguably the closest thing that this group of biologists devoted to flying vertebrates have to a holy relic.


Blogger jacek said...

excellent post. interesting, tight and a great picture. kudos.

2:56 PM  

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