The wrinkle-faced bat, a masked seducer

Animals preserve great events in the history of their evolution. From the largest to the smallest, they configure their organism and skills for survival. Among these peculiar animals is a nocturnal flyer. A masked seducer is definitely the wrinkle-faced bat, which removes its mask of folds to mate with its female.

Bats are disturbing creatures, the kings of darkness and shadows. Its activity is mainly nocturnal and for this reason its observation in situ becomes more complex. However, a recent study sheds light on new characteristics and behaviors of wrinkle-faced bats.

The Centurio Senex bat is iconic for its facial morphology that is far from other bat species. Its male specimens have a ‘mask’ of folds that give their face a strangely wrinkled appearance.

Until recently there was very limited knowledge of the behavior of the Centurio Senex. However, thanks to the first in situ study analyzing the ecology of these strange but surprising mammals, we now know a little more about their echolocation and mating behavior.

The research carried out by the University of Costa Rica and led by Dr. Bernal Rodríguez Herrera, opens new knowledge about the wrinkle-faced bat. During a period of 6 weeks, the researchers located a total of 52 perches, among which they recorded a mating event.

The team describes that the ‘mask’ is an important part of mating between wrinkle-faced bats. Apparently, the facial mask composed of folds of excess skin in males disappears just before copulation takes place.

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The male lowers his mask to mate

In the study published in PLOS ONE, the researchers describe an encounter between a male and a female visitor to the perch. Ten seconds before the female landed, the male had been vocalizing a courtship song.

“The male immediately lowered his mask and quickly moved into a face-to-face position with the female.”

These disturbing seducers remove their mask of folds for mating. In addition, the researchers were also able to analyze the form of echolocation, thanks to the courtship vocalizations emitted before copulation.

It was concluded that the wrinkle-faced bat generally does not emit more than one harmonic in its vocalizations. Contrary to other species in which greater strength has been recorded in the third harmonic. According to the research, this could be because its skull is relatively shorter compared to all phyllostomid bats.

This is the first study to look at wrinkle-faced bats and sheds light on future research on these masked seducers.