If you’ve been watching the news lately you may have caught a story about Congress asking for an inquiry into the many Unidentified Aerial Phenomena that our military reported over the past several years. These are more commonly known as Unidentified Flying Objects. Along with the many rovers exploring Mars for signs of ancient life and other space exploration efforts, we may learn about extraterrestrial life any day now.
In the meantime, there are many discoveries in nature waiting to be uncovered here. For example, just this month, researchers from the Tel-Aviv University reported that bats exhibit a fundamentally different method for spatial perception.
What this means is that even though they are mammals just like you and me, they don’t measure space between points the way we do. When we see something we tend to estimate the distance between it and ourselves. That space is measured in units of feet or meters.
Bats, on the other hand, use echolocation and register the amount of time elapsed between the sending and the receiving signals. Therefore, they measure a unit of time or the speed of the sound. Consequently, atmospheric conditions could change the unit of time between those same two points, whereas for us it would still be the same units of distance.
The upshot is that bats perceived the world very differently. I wonder if there are other ways that creatures perceive space and distance. The more we know about the variations in perception perhaps we will be better prepared for comprehending extraterrestrial life if and when we encounter it.
In another unexpected finding, rats and pigs, both of which are also mammals, can use their intestines to breathe. That is not a typo. This discovery may become a new life-saving treatment.
Intestinal respiration is not uncommon for certain types of sea animals, such as the sea cucumber. This is one adaptation for surviving in low-oxygen ocean environments. However, only recently was this ability also discovered in mammals.
While the science is too complicated to explain here, a senior researcher at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, designed the study to explore an alternative artificial respiratory pathway. His motivation was a desire to address acute respiratory issues in humans. One application would be to use a patient’s own intestine to increase oxygenation in COVID-19 patients. Where their lungs may be compromised, perhaps their intestines may “breathe.”
The research continues.
Bats and spatial perceptions – https://www.pnas.org/content/118/19/e2024352118
Scholarly study on intestinal respiration – https://www.cell.com/med/fulltext/S2666-6340(21)00153-7?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS2666634021001537%3Fshowall%3Dtrue
More accessible article here – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210514134205.htm