A fossil discovered in Wyoming seems more like a glider than a flier. Charles Darwin worried about bats, wondering whether his scientific successors would ever figure out how they evolved.
Until now, all fossil bats looked just like today's bats, says paleontologist Kevin Seymour of the Royal Ontario Museum. Last week, he and colleagues announced a missing bat link - a 52-million-year-old skeleton pulled from an outcrop in southern Wyoming. The creature had a shorter wingspan and longer legs than other bats, more similar to the tree-climbing or scurrying mammals that must have been its ancestors.
Seymour said this new transitional bat probably evolved from some clawed, tree-climbing animal that learned to glide. Gliding is a surprisingly common adaptation, he said. There are gliding lemurs, gliding frogs, and even gliding lizards. Eventually some of those proto-bats developed the ability to flutter as well as glide - a pattern seen today in the mouse-tailed bat.
Storyteller : Paleontologist Kevin Seymour of the Royal Ontario Museum.
Found: An ancient bat in transition
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