Barclay 1

Marc Barclay
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What it is (really) like to be a bat?
Debating the limits of the human imagination in comprehending the consciousness of winged
mammals seems to be of a negligible importance when one considers the plight of these poor
creatures. Bats worldwide face a number of crises from eviction to extinction, and yet Thomas
Nagel proceeds to argue that we as humans cannot possibly relate to them, undermining the
necessity of compassion for these fur-coated flyers. Academic digressions aside, it is crucial that
the students of today indeed ask themselves “what is it like to be a bat?” and, contrary to Nagel’s
essay, attempt to imagine their current condition.
The flying fox is perhaps the very model that all smaller bats aspire to be. Covering any bat from
the genus Pteropus, their title derives from their massive size, as certain species can possess
wingspans of almost five feet and weigh more than three pounds.
In the city of Ipswich, Australia, they have been given an eviction notice.
A family of these gentle giants roosts in the local trees, eating fruit and drinking flower nectar.
They are docile, but their bat conversations disturb the locals, who also complain of their smell.
Mayor Paul Pisasale says he will take action against the bats even though they are protected by
environmental regulation due to their status as threatened.
However, Pisasale might not have to do anything if climate change gets its way. While the
human residents could at least seek refuge in air conditioned buildings, over two-thousand flying
foxes died during the summer of 2014 from the heat, which reached 44 degrees Celsius (111 deg.
F). They found the ground littered with their bodies, as the bats were literally dropping dead
from the trees. Even the mayor agreed that the bats, who he had previously described as a
nuisance, never deserved such a fate.
Compared to their American counterparts, Australian bats have it lucky.
It was the night of the white nose that brought destruction and death upon the Little Brown Bat
colony. After gorging themselves on half of their body weight's worth of airborne invertebrae to
prepare for the winter, the Myotis lucifugus colony returned to their home in the caves of the
Smoky Mountains.
Little did they know that a few spelunkers had recently passed through their abode, and had
unintentionally left traces of the Pseudogymnoascus Destructans, otherwise known as White
Nose Fungus.

Barclay 2

After a week, the bats began to show strange symptoms. Many of the bats developed a white
fuzz on their faces, surrounding their mouths and noses, and those affected behaved unusually.
They would fly about in the freezing chill of winter when they should have been asleep, wasting
the valuable energy they had previously stored for their hibernation and leaving less and less for
their slumber. In addition, the bats started to experience tearing and other lesions on the leathery
membranes of their wings. Within a year, less than a quarter of the bat population remained. The
following year, only five percent had survived, and biologists predicted that none of them would
live to see the next spring.
Newspapers and magazines published articles about how one of America's most populous bat
species could very well face extinction within the century, even with the most charitable
mortality models. Living in times like these as a Little Brown Bat is ill advised at best, and
downright suicidal at the worst. One can only hope that current attempt at combating the illness
using R. rhodochrous, a bacteria that give off anti-fungal emissions, are successful in the long
term.
The nature of consciousness can go jump in a lake. Bats these days have much more serious shit
to deal with than petty, philosophical ponderings of perception and existence.

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