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PLANET NEWS

A New Fossil Link For Bat Evolution

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Bats evolved flight before they evolved echolocation, say scientists who discovered the oldest bat species known. The nearly complete bat skeleton is based on two fossils from the Green River Formation in Wyoming. It had fully developed wings but not an enlarged cochleae, the part of the inner ear used by bats to echolocate.

At over 52 million years old, this fossil is by far the oldest bat species ever found. The wing bones still have claws at the tips, unlike modern bats, but the wings most certainly allowed the creature to fly.

The researchers speculate that without the ability to echolocate, this bat must have flown during daylight hours, possible because large numbers of birds had not yet taken to the sky. Later, as competition from birds increased, bats may have evolved echolocation in order to turn to a nocturnal mode of life.

Source: Nature.com
Photo Credit: Royal Ontario Museum, 2008

Related Links:
http://www.nature.com/nature

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