'Reverse evolution': bats hunting on the ground

31 enero 2008

Evolution doesn't often go into reverse but, in New Zealand, bats seem to have reverted to the hunting techniques of their ancestors. Unlike most bats, which catch their prey in the air, the short-tailed bat has also adapted to ground hunting and is one of the few bats in the world which spends large amounts of time on the forest floor, using its folded wings as `front limbs' for scrambling around.

These bats are unique in their ability to fold their wings under a leathery membrane when grounded. This enables the use of their fore arms as front legs as they run through burrows and the forest floor as eagerly as a mouse. According to Jared Diamond, "short-tailed bats are the world's most terrestrial bats and represent the bat family's attempt to produce a mouse".

Image credits: University of Michigan

More info and sources: 1, 2, 3