Texas Tech University

The Genetic Basis for Vampirism May Be Buried Across the Tree of LIfe


November 2, 2015

Gizmodo - Vampire bats are the only vertebrates that feed on the blood of other mammals. But the capacity to do so may be buried in all of us, according to a new study which pinpoints the underlying genetic origins of traits that make a good vampire.

Vampire bat saliva, which includes a cocktail of flesh-numbing compounds and anti-clotting agents, is uniquely adapted to a blood-feasting lifestyle. In a forthcoming paper in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, Caleb Phillips and Robert Baker of Texas Tech University present evidence that these venomous weapons evolved by recruiting ancestral genes to produce new molecules. In their original state, so-called vampirism genes serve entirely non-Satanic purposes.

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