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December 1988

The Birds, the Bees, and the Bats

Author Affiliations

Department of Dermatology University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry 601 Elmwood Ave Rochester, NY 14642

Arch Dermatol. 1988;124(12):1780-1781. doi:10.1001/archderm.1988.01670120008001

Why do we have to read about bats today? What do bats have to do with Dermatology?

At the Smithsonian, within an exhibit explaining the threat to the tropical forests in the world, there was a small case showing that some plants depend on bats for pollination. The bats carried pollen from one plant to another on specially modified hairs on their shoulders and back. This use of a skin appendage for pollination was an intriguing use of skin, akin to using a fingernail for artificial insemination, and deserved further thought and reading.

My previous acquaintance with bats had been very limited. Batman was of course an early cultural hero of mine. I studied his literature and its accompanying artwork, and I identified with his sidekick. I knew that the witches in Macbeth put into the cauldron (act IV, scene 1) some "wool of bat" and that in Alice in

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