It is common knowledge that bats are nocturnal creatures, which is why they seem to only wind up within people’s homes during the nighttime hours. Before the sun rises, bats dutifully report back to their darkened caves in order to wait out the sunlight. Of course, bats are certainly not the only animals that are active at night, as nocturnality seems to be a natural aspect of some species’ nature. One group of researchers believe that they have stumbled upon the reason as to why bats are nocturnal. According to these experts, bats may not have always been nocturnal; instead, bats may have adapted to nocturnality in response to intense competition with birds over food sources.
There exists 1,200 bat species that have been documented by researchers, and every one of these species was believed to be nocturnal. Not one single bat species from Mexico to Vietnam has been found hunting insects during the daytime hours, except for one, that is. Tioman Island is located 20 miles east of the The Malay Peninsula. This island is unique for being home to a one-of-a-kind bat species that hunts only during the daytime hours. Initially, researchers were baffled over the existence of this bat species, as they had never considered the possibility that a daytime bat species could exist. However, upon learning that the island is unique for its complete lack of predatory bird species, it became clear to the researchers as to why this particular bat species never adapted to nocturnality. Considering that there exists somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 bird species that have been described by experts, bats are massively outnumbered by birds. Bats and birds must also compete for food sources, as both feed primarily on insects. Given the stiff competition that existed between bats and birds millions of years ago, bats eventually adapted to hunting for food sources at night. In other words, bats took it upon themselves to divide the day into two time frames, one for bird predation, and the second for bat predation. It is nice to learn that wild animals can also work out their differences peacefully.
Do you believe that bats would be flying around during the daytime hours today if birds had been the first animals to adapt to nocturnality?