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Last Updated: Thursday December 07 2006 14:26 GMT

Bat slurps with weird long tongue

The anoura fistulata bat with its enormous tongue

An unusal type of bat has licked an eating problem - by having a tongue that's one and a half times as long as it is!

The anoura fistulata bat uses its extraordinarily long tongue to sip nectar from strangely-shaped flowers in forests in Ecuador, where it lives.

Scientists have worked out that if the bat's tongue belonged to a cat, it could lap milk 60cm away from its bowl!

It's a one-off as no other mammal has a tongue that long compared to its body.

When the bats are not using their tongues, they pull them back down into their body.

Batty quiz
A bat

Scientists trained the bats - which were discovered for the first time in 2006 - to drink sweet water from a special see-through straw so that they could measure the length of the tongue.

In other bat news, experts are happy as they've solved a mystery about how the flying mammals find their way around.

Scientists knew the creatures bounced sound waves off objects to guess distances.

But they couldn't figure out how bats travelled about in large areas.

They thought the creatures might have an in-built compass, telling them which way to go.

Messed up

A group of bats were fitted with tracking gadgets. They were set free in an area where the magnetic field - which makes a compass work - had been messed up.

The bats went the wrong way - so scientists knew that what they guessed had been right.