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SciCafe: Seeing Inside Bats

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

SciCafe October 2015

Join Curator Nancy Simmons and postdoctoral Fellow Abigail Curtis, from the Museum’s Department of Mammalogy, for an exciting journey inside the world (and bodies!) of bats. Often small in size and difficult to study, these amazing mammals are known for many remarkable qualities including powered flight, echolocation, and diverse feeding strategies. Using CT-scanning technology, Simmons and Curtis are taking a new look at bat skeletons from their wings to their skulls, and using digital images to explore questions about their evolution and adaptations.

Read More:

  • Learn more about CT scanning and other advanced imaging techniques used at the American Museum of Natural History.
  • The Digital Morphology library (DigiMorph) gives a glimpse of the diversity of organisms that researchers can study using CT scans. 
  • research paper using microCT scans to examine evolutionary patterns in bat inner ears, which function in the sense of balance, as well as perception of echolocation calls.
  • Check out Dr. Nancy Simmons’ video profile where she talks about the major questions in bat biology and how she came to study bats.

About the Speakers:


Dr. Nancy Simmons is the Curator-in-charge of the Department of Mammalogy and Professor in the Richard Guilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History.  Her research focuses on the evolution of bats — the only flying mammals — and includes everything from fieldwork with living bats to studies of 52 million year old fossil bats (the oldest known).  She was also part of the team that helped to build the Tree of Life for Mammals.


Dr. Abigail Curtis is a Gerstner Scholar Postdocotral Research Fellow working with Dr. Nancy Simmons in the Department of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History.  She is interested in understanding patterns in the evolution of mammal skulls. Her research focuses specifically on the complex and poorly understood internal anatomy of mammal skulls. Curtis has worked on taxa including the carnivores (bears, wolves, lions, and kin) and, most recently, bats in order to understand more about how diversity in skull morphology evolves, and how it relates to diet, ecology, and behavior.

Frequent Geek Cards

Get your card stamped at the information table when you attend SciCafe.

  • Get three stamps, receive a free drink.
  • Get five stamps, receive a free Frequent Geek T-shirt.
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The SciCafe series is proudly sponsored by Judy and Josh Weston.