First discovered in Ecuador in 2005, the tube-lipped nectar bat (Anoura fistulata) has the longest tongue, relative to body length, of any known mammal.
The creature is only about two inches (five centimeters) long, but its tongue is nearly three and a half inches (nine centimeters) longâ€”one and a half times longer than the bat’s body.
When not collecting nectar from the Centropogon nigricans flower, the bat’s tongue is retracted and stored in the animal’s rib cage.
In the new high-def videoâ€”which aired Sunday as part of the National Geographic Channel’s Untamed Americas documentary seriesâ€”the bat is shown feeding on the wing.
“These bats can hover,” said biologist Nathan Muchhala, who helped discover the species in an Andean cloud forest. “They’re like hummingbirds in that sense.”