Wrinkle-faced Bat (Centurio senex)
When I drew this guy, I was working on a Mammal Mating theme week, but that was several months ago, and now I can’t figure out what’s interesting about the wrinkle-faced bat’s mating habits, except that scientists speculate that the wrinkled face may be related to sexual selection. Only the males have big neck flaps, and they emit a musky odor from their chin regions, and why would males emit a musky odor from their chin regions if not to attract females?
The flaps at the male bats’ necks are so big that when they’re resting, they flip the flaps up to cover their entire faces. I thought it might be to keep light out so they could sleep better during the day, but then I learned that they have translucent patches over the eyes! Pretty amazing.
This article from the Journal of Zoology (link is to a PDF) uses words like bizarre, extraordinary, unusual, exceptional, enigmatic, and dramatic in describing the bat’s strange face and head. The wrinkle-faced bat is frugivorous, meaning it eats fruit, and the article’s authors conclude that it’s likely that the shape of the head, anyway, is in service of the bat’s strong bite, which perhaps helps it eat harder fruits and therefore survive when weaker-jawed frugivores wouldn’t. Usually, when a bat has strange facial folds, it’s thought that the wrinkles help focus the bat’s sonar so it can better catch insects. But this fruit-eater obviously doesn’t need that kind of help. I read one theory speculating that the wrinkles could channel fruit juice into the bat’s mouth.
The scientific name Centurio senex means “100-year-old man.”