Earliest bats developed flight skills before echolocation over 50 mln years ago

November 14th, 2007 - 2:42 am ICT by admin  
Echolocation, also called Biosonar, is the biological sonar used by several mammals such as bats, dolphins and whales as navigational aids.

Echolocating animals emit calls out to the environment, and listen to the echoes of those calls that return from various objects in the environment.

These echoes help the animals to locate, range, and identify the obstacles. Echolocation is used for navigation and well as for foraging.

Bats are thought to have evolved from flightless tree-dwelling creatures, and also developed specialized echolocation to detect their small prey at night.

However, it has been a matter of debate, as to which came first, flight skills or echolocation.

The new study has provided the strongest evidence that bats evolved flight skills before echolocation.

The most primitive bat ever discovered had a claw on all five digits of each limb and caught its prey without the use of echolocation, the authors said.

“This tells us there was flight before echolocation. So the question we have to answer now is: how did it catch its prey?” said Nancy Simmons, chief mammal curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Simmons and her colleagues said the two individual fossils of the 52.5-million-year-old bat originally came from the Green River Formation, a famous deposit in the US Fossil Butte National Monument Park in southwestern Wyoming.

The research has been presented for publication to a scientific journal, reports Nature. (ANI)

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