Picture this: It’s a dark and stormy night (isn’t it always?), and the streetlights have all gone out. You hear a suspicious rustling just ahead of you. Skin prickling, hairs standing straight up on your neck, you cautiously step forward. Suddenly, you see a winged shadow flicker across the broken drifts of moonlight. Where’s Buffy when you need her? Then it dawns on you that it’s not so likely that there are actual vampires dwelling in Chicagoland streets…could what you’re sensing be a bat? And if it is—is there valid reason to be afraid?
Gauging the Fear Factor: The Most Misunderstood Mammal
If you are afraid of bats, you’re not alone. There’s something about them that has long inspired fear in humanity, from folkloric connections to bloodthirsty vampires and even Macbeth’s witches to the more benign concerns that they’ll mess up our hair. These days, reason dictates that those things are more old wives tales than truth.
And yet…the fear lives on. Why? Tim Sullivan, the Curator of Animal Behavior at the Brookfield Zoo, hypothesizes that people fear bats because they look so different from most mammals, thanks to their almost (okay, actually) spooky wings. (more…)