Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Giant Fossil Bats Out Of Africa, 35 Million Years Old

Date:
March 5, 2008
Source:
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Summary:
When most of us think of Ancient Egypt, visions of pyramids and mummies fill our imaginations. For a team of paleontologists interested in fossil mammals, the Fayum district of Egypt summons an even older and equally impressive history that extends much further back in time than the Sphinx. Six new bat species dating to around 35 million years ago, which sheds new light on the early evolution of bats, have just been discovered

Reconstruction of Witwatia schlosseri, a new species of very large bat from the Fayum distric of Egypt.
Credit: Drawing by Bonnie Miljour

When most of us think of Ancient Egypt, visions of pyramids and mummies fill our imaginations. For a team of paleontologists interested in fossil mammals, the Fayum district of Egypt summons an even older and equally impressive history that extends much further back in time than the Sphinx.

In a recent issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, scientists report on the discovery of six new bat species dating to around 35 million years ago, which sheds new light on the early evolution of bats.

It took over 25 years of fieldwork to collect the 33 specimens that form the basis of the new study. “That translates to a little over one specimen per year – a lot of effort for a single fossil,” said Erik Seiffert, a paleontologist at Stony Brook University. “But it shows just how important patience and long term field programs are to science. Our long-term commitment to field work certainly paid off in this case.” Among the new species is “a giant among bats; though weighing in at less than a half-pound, it is one of the largest fossil bats ever discovered,” said Greg Gunnell, a paleontologist at the University of Michigan.

Fossil bats of Eocene age are rare in Africa. Only a few fragmentary remains from Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania and Tunisia were previously known. The discovery of six new kinds of bats illustrates the remarkably rich, and previously unsuspected, diversity of bats in Africa 37-34 million years ago. These discoveries provide important new information for understanding the evolution of modern bat families.

It was thought that most Old World families of bats evolved and diversified in the northern hemisphere, but the new study indicates that many modern bat families only diversified and radiated after their initial dispersal into Africa. Seiffert noted that the Fayum bats include members of the most common and widespread group of living bats, “Clearly the modern bat families have very ancient origins, and at least some of them probably originated in Africa.”

Elwyn Simons of Duke University said, “Interestingly, it seems that primitive modern bats may have entered Africa together with primitive anthropoid primates. Only then did they diversify and disperse into the rest of the Old and New Worlds.”

Gunnell hopes that “if we can come to understand the history of how bats came to be so intertwined within our ecosystem, then we can begin to appreciate them instead of fear them as many people seem to do.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. "Giant Fossil Bats Out Of Africa, 35 Million Years Old." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080304191213.htm>.
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. (2008, March 5). Giant Fossil Bats Out Of Africa, 35 Million Years Old. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080304191213.htm
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. "Giant Fossil Bats Out Of Africa, 35 Million Years Old." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080304191213.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) — As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

AP (July 18, 2014) — Forty-five years ago Sunday, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Speaking at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Aldrin described what he was thinking right before the historic walk. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins