Earliest Bat Fossil Reveals Transition to Flight
Nature, sheds light on the origin of many of these features.
When people think of mammals, bats are probably not the first animals to come to mind, yet they account for roughly a fifth of current mammal species. They simply have so many specialized features—large ears and echolocation, radically extended forelimb bones, skin flaps connecting their limbs—that they seem quite removed from what we view as a typical mammal. A new fossil find from Wyoming, described in this week’s edition of
As you can see at right, the fossil is astonishingly well preserved. It comes from deposits that date to about 52.5 million years ago, a time when many mammalian groups were expanding, possibly in response to the environmental changes associated with the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. The species has been named Onychonycteris finneyi, meaning “clawed bat” and honoring its discoverer, Bonnie Finney…
(read more: Ars Technica) (Image: Royal Ontario Museum)