Why We’re Afraid of Bats

a close up of a flower: Matt Huynh

© Provided by The Atlantic
Matt Huynh

If you grew up in a land of potentially dangerous animals, as I did, much of your outdoors education might have entailed learning to recognize and avoid the settings in which you were most likely to encounter them. Dawn after a streak of hot, rainless, overcast days? Shark weather, according to the local wisdom. A smooth clearing in otherwise tangled bushland, its topside granulated like cane sugar? A telltale sign of Australian bulldog ants below, prickling with venom. The wisest way to flip a rock: Reach over and pull the farthest edge up toward you. Now anything coiled beneath it escapes in an away direction. Coming to understand oneself as, if not prey, at the very least a legible target for other creatures’ defensive instincts was a timeworn rite of passage. Still, shrewd (and possibly life-preserving) though it was to jump back

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