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A World of Science and Mystery

There are more than 1,300 species of bats—or almost a quarter of the world’s mammal species. But before you shrink in fear from these furry “creatures of the night,” consider the bat’s fundamental role in our ecosystem. A single brown bat can eat several thousand insects in a night. Bats also pollinate and disperse the seeds for many of the plants we love, from bananas to mangoes and figs.
Bats: A World of Science and Mystery presents these fascinating nocturnal creatures in a new light. Lush, full-color photographs portray bats in flight, feeding, and mating in views that show them in exceptional detail. The photos also take the reader into the roosts of bats, from caves and mines to the tents some bats build out of leaves. A comprehensive guide to what scientists know about the world of bats, the book begins with a look at bats’ origins and evolution. The book goes on to address a host of questions related to flight, diet, habitat, reproduction, and social structure: Why do some bats live alone and others in large colonies? When do bats reproduce and care for their young? How has the ability to fly—unique among mammals—influenced bats’ mating behavior? A chapter on biosonar, or echolocation, takes readers through the system of high-pitched calls bats emit to navigate and catch prey. More than half of the world’s bat species are either in decline or already considered endangered, and the book concludes with suggestions for what we can do to protect these species for future generations to benefit from and enjoy.

From the tiny “bumblebee bat”—the world’s smallest mammal—to the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox, whose wingspan exceeds five feet, A Battery of Bats presents a panoramic view of one of the world’s most fascinating yet least-understood species.

See sample pages from the book (PDF format).

240 pages | 342 color plates, 29 line drawings | 8 1/2 x 11 | © 2014

Biological Sciences: Behavioral Biology, Conservation, Evolutionary Biology


“Yes, bats can be scary, but they can be beautiful, too, as researchers M. Brock Fenton and Nancy B. Simmons show in their new book, Bats: A World of Science and Mystery.”

Wall Street Journal

“Recommended. . . . Fenton and Simmons provide a wealth of information about the biology and natural history of bats.”


"Twelve chapters explain the biology of bats, their evolutionary history, morphologies, behaviors, life histories, food, diseases, and conservation. Wonderful color photographs accompany the text.”


Bats has something for everyone, from casual seekers of fascinating eye candy to professional scientists interested in the latest discoveries. . . . By the end of the book, the reader feels like he has been taken on a personal tour by people who really care about what they do. . . . Fenton and Simmons provide a highly accessible glimpse into what it is like to study bats and the kinds of unexpected things that can happen along the way.”

Biological Conservation

Fenton and Simmons share a wealth of information on bats gathered from the primary literature and their collective wisdom in a format that everyone can enjoy. . . . This is a highly informative, easy-to-read book. . . . It is incredibly well written and the layout is well balanced with an ideal amount of text accompanied by beautiful photographs and easy-to-interpret diagrams and illustrations. Despite tackling some highly technical and, at times, complicated concepts, the authors manage to organize and explain each section in a straightforward and effortless manner, enabling anyone to learn about these fascinating animals regardless of whether they are finding out about them for the first time or have been studying them for years.”

Quarterly Review of Biology

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: It’s a Bat!

Chapter 2: Ancient Bats

Chapter 3: Taking Off

Chapter 4: How Bats See with Sound

Chapter 5: What Bats Eat

Chapter 6: Where Bats Hang Out

Chapter 7: Life Histories of Bats

Chapter 8: Behavior of Bats

Chapter 9: Bats and Disease

Chapter 10: Bats and People

Chapter 11: Conservation of Bats

Chapter 12: What’s Next in Bats?

Annotated Bibliography


Index of Bat Names


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