Happy Halloween! Bats cause a scream at Field Museum Chicago

October 31, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The good, the bad and the ugly. Bats! Thousands of them are at the Chicago Field Museum.

"We have over 55,000 specimens of bats which represents basically a quarter of our collection of mammals here at the Field Museum and they're from all over the world," Bill Stanley, Field Museum, manager of mammal collections, said.

On Halloween, bats are the star of the show at the Field Museum- both on exhibit and behind the scenes in the private research section.

"They have had a bad rap. People believe that bats are blind. They believe that they're going to fly into your hair. They believe that they absolutely are going to get rabies if they see a bat but none of this is true," Stanley said.

Without the bats' ferocious appetites, we would be overwhelmed by insects. Many of our plants and flowers would not be pollinated. But, yes, there are real vampire bats that live on the blood of other animals. But they're mostly in South America.

"These do not occur in Illinois. We have roughly thirteen species of bats in Illinois but the vampire is not one of them," Bill Stanley said.

Some of them are actually sort of cute; others would scare Dracula, himself. The giant fruit-eating hammerhead bat has a bit in common- with people.

"The bat has a thumb and four fingers. Two bones in the lower arm and a bone in the upper arm just like you and I," Bill Stanley said.

But bats can fly.

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