GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Nineteenth century engraving of vampire bats (or "blood-suckers") finding their human donors. This family of bats is specialized in feeding on blood. Their connection with humans aroused the imagina- tion of gothic horror writers and novelists. Yet by far the greater percentage of donors are other warm-blooded animals, including domestic breeds. Vampires approach so carefully and quietly that sleeping people do not wake when the bats land on their victims, bite quickly with razor teeth, secrete an anti-coagulant, then lap at the flowing blood. The bite is harmless in itself. However, some tropical diseases can be transmitted in this way. Drawn from a South American scene.
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