I was watching a program about bats last night when I wondered why they are called chauve-souris (bald mouse) in French. Millions and millions of years ago, when French-speaking people came to name this strange animal, did they really have one look at it and think: “It looks a bit like a mouse, only it’s bald”? Fair enough, it does look like a mouse, but isn’t the fact that it FLIES slightly more striking than its presumed lack of hair? Especially as it’s not even bald!
As ever, the etymology of the word is there to relieve me of my anguish. Chauve-souris comes from Latin calva sorix (bald mouse), which is an alteration of Greek cawa sorix (owl mouse).
And my faith in the observational powers of my ancestors was restored.