Navigation Links
Bizarre walking bat has ancient heritage
Date:7/29/2009

A bizarre New Zealand bat that is as much at home walking four-legged on the ground as winging through the air had an Australian ancestor 20 million years ago with the same rare ability, a new study has found.

The discovery overturns a long-held held view that the agile walking and climbing skills of the lesser short-tailed bat - Mystacina tuberculata evolved in the absence of any ground-dwelling mammal competitors or predators, says an international team of researchers led by Dr Suzanne Hand, a bat expert at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Along with the American common vampire bat - Desmodus rotundus - the NZ bat is one of only two of 1,100 bat species worldwide that has a true four-legged walking gait when manoeuvring on the ground.

It uses its wings as forelegs. Its thumb and toe claws have a unique extra talon for extra grip, plus a system of adhesive, gecko-like grooves in the soft, deeply wrinkled soles of its feet,

The team has found that other special muscle and bone adaptations were also present in one of its extinct rainforest-dwelling Australian ancestors, fossils of which have been found at the rich Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil Site in north-west Queensland, it says in a report published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.

"The lesser short-tailed bat seems to be the sole survivor of an ancient Australian lineage now found only in New Zealand," says Dr Hand. "This study shows that, contrary to existing hypotheses, bats are not overwhelmingly absent from the ground because of competition from, or predation by, other mammals.

"Unlike for birds, there is currently no evidence that any bat has evolved a reduced capacity for flight as a result of isolation on islands.

"Rather, it would seem that walking is rare in bats because it has advantages for them only in special circumstances. Competition with other mammals and pressure from terrestrial predators does not deter modern vampire bats from walking. Likewise, the rich rainforest environment in which the ancestors of the mystacinid bats evolved in ancient Australia was teeming with ground-based competitors and predators."

A small secretive creature with velvety fur, the lesser short-tailed bat is New Zealand's only terrestrial mammal: it spends long periods on the ground in heavily forested areas, hunting insects and seeking out fruit, nectar and pollen.

It also appears to have evolved a special relationship as a pollinator for the Hades flower, or woodrose, a parasitic plant that produces nectar from blooms near ground level at the base of tree trunks.

Among other unusual traits, the bat is thought to use its teeth and claws to excavate roosting burrows and males appear to compete for mates by gathering for singing competitions in their breeding season.


'/>"/>

Contact: Bob Beale
bbeale@unsw.edu.au
61-241-170-5435
University of New South Wales
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Brain structure provides key to unraveling function of bizarre dinosaur crests
2. Did walking on 2 feet begin with a shuffle?
3. Walking tall to protect the species
4. Scientists rebuild giant moa using ancient DNA
5. University of Leicester geologists demonstrate extent of ancient ice age
6. Fossil bone bed helps reconstruct life along Californias ancient coastline
7. Temporary infidelity may contribute to the stability of ancient relationships
8. Bolivian rainforest study suggests feeding behavior in monkeys and humans have ancient, shared roots
9. Diuscovery in amber reveals ancient biology of termites
10. Wetlands likely source of methane from ancient warming event
11. Ancient ecosystem thrives millions of years below Antarctic glacier
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/13/2017)... MONICA, Calif. , April 13, 2017 ... New York will feature emerging and evolving ... Summits. Both Innovation Summits will run alongside the expo ... of speaker sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on trending ... coast,s largest advanced design and manufacturing event will take ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... MELBOURNE, Florida , April 11, 2017 ... "Company"), a security technology company, announces the appointment of independent ... John Bendheim to its Board of Directors, furthering the ... ... behalf of NXT-ID, we look forward to their guidance and ...
(Date:4/4/2017)... --  EyeLock LLC , a leader of iris-based identity ... and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued U.S. Patent No. ... iris image with a face image acquired in sequence ... th issued patent. "The issuance ... multi-modal biometric capabilities that have recently come to market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... 10, 2017 International research firm Parks Associates announced ... at the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , October 11 in ... residential home security market and how smart safety and security products impact ... Parks Associates: Smart Home ... "The residential security market has ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... The Pittcon ... awards honoring scientists who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry ... Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its ... Dr. Christopher Stubbs, a professor in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has ... was a member of the winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... , ... October 06, 2017 ... ... experience providing advanced instruments and applications consulting for microscopy and surface analysis, ... in application consulting, Nanoscience Analytical offers a broad range of contract analysis ...
Breaking Biology Technology: