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Something New to Worry About: Vampire Bats

Well, if you live in the Amazonian regions of Peru, it's something to worry about. Peruvians are quite worried, and with good reason: in past weeks, four people have died from vampire bat attacks -- not from blood loss, but from a peculiar form of rabies that the bats carry known as "dumb rabies," which paralyzes its victims rather than turning them into foaming-at-the-mouth psychotics.

So why are the bats suddenly a problem? It's thought to be a combination of factors: first and foremost, deforestation of the Amazon is forcing the bats out of their traditional habitats, and secondly, the spread of farming and livestock-raising into rainforest-adjacent areas is giving the bats a new and easy-to-feed-upon source of food -- cows. So the bats are moving into peopled areas and multiplying at the same time, a bad combination. When I heard this strange bit of news, I decided to learn a bit more about vampire bats. Here are a few of the most interesting factoids I happened upon:

"¢ Their saliva contains a substance that prevents their prey's blood from clotting, aptly named draculin.

"¢ The inferior colliculus, part of the bat's brain that processes sound, detects the regular breathing sounds of sleeping animals, their main food source.

"¢ A vampire bat's upper incisors lack enamel, which keeps them razor sharp permanently.

"¢ Socially, vampire bats are an unusually altruistic species. They cannot go more than about two days without a meal of blood, and because food sources are sometimes rare, lucky bats are known to share food with unluckier ones by regurgitating portions of past meals into the mouths of other bats, mouth-to-mouth, in an activity that strongly resembles kissing.

Less informatively, but perhaps more entertainingly, this song has been stuck in my head all day.

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The Origins of 36 Marvel Characters, Illustrated
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

No matter what their powers, every super hero has an origin story, from Spider-Man’s radioactive bite to Iron Man’s life-threatening chest shrapnel. In their latest poster, the designers at Pop Chart Lab have taken their infographic savvy to the Marvel Universe, charting the heroic origins of 36 different Marvel characters through miniature, minimalist comics.

Without using any words, they’ve managed to illustrate Bucky Barnes's plane explosion and subsequent transformation into the Winter Soldier, Jessica Jones’s car crash, the death of the Punisher’s family, and other classic stories from the major Marvel canon while paying tribute to the comic book form.

Explore the poster below, and see a zoomable version on Pop Chart Lab’s website.

A poster featuring 36 minimalist illustrations of superhero origin stories.
Pop Chart Lab

Keep your eyes open for future Marvel-Pop Chart crossovers. The Marvel Origins: A Sequential Compendium poster is “the first release of what we hope to be a marvelous partnership,” as Pop Chart Lab’s Galvin Chow puts it. Prints are available for pre-order starting at $37 and are scheduled to start shipping on March 8.

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