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The Misunderstood ‘False Vampire Bat’

Oct 23, 2018 | 831 videos
Video by Jason Jaacks

Deep in the Maya forests of Mexico lives the rarely-seen Vampyrum spectrum—the false vampire bat. Little is known about these carnivorous mammals, as their nocturnal lifestyle and remote habitats make them exceedingly difficult to study.

That didn’t deter biologist Rodrigo Medellin and photographer Anand Varma. In Jason Jaacks’s short documentary, In Search of Tzotz, Medellin, Professor of Ecology at the University of Mexico, and Varma, on assignment for National Geographic, spent months scouring ancient ruins and labyrinthine caves in the Yucatan for traces of the mysterious winged creatures, whom the Maya called Tzotz.

“Through Dr. Medellin's research and Anand's incredible visual storytelling skills, we witnessed several new behaviors never before seen by science,” Jaacks told The Atlantic.  “We spent quite a bit of time crammed in a small tunnel inside an 800-year-old Mayan temple, in near-pitch darkness, filming the False Woolly Vampire bat roost. To hear a bat with a 2.5-foot wingspan fly over you in tight quarters was utterly amazing...Being in the presence of these bats is an awe-inspiring feeling.”

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.