Bats : a world of science and mystery by Fenton, Melville Brockett; Simmons, Nancy B

By Fenton, Melville Brockett; Simmons, Nancy B

There are greater than 1,300 species of bats - or nearly 1 / 4 of the world's mammal species. yet sooner than you scale back in worry from those hairy "creatures of the night," give some thought to the bat's primary position in our surroundings. A unmarried ten-gram bat might devour a number of thousand bugs in an evening. during the tropics and subtropics, fruit and nectar-feeding bats also are the most important to the lives of crops, supplying both Read more...

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There are greater than 1,300 species of bats - or virtually 1 / 4 of the world's mammal species. yet earlier than you lower in worry from those bushy "creatures of the night," ponder the bat's fundamental Read more...

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The skull of I. index was 20 mm long. Photograph courtesy of Joerg Habersetzer. 40 Bats: A World of Science and Mystery Chapter 2: Ancient Bats 41 Birds appear in the fossil record in the Upper Jurassic, about 160 million years ago—nearly 100 million years before bats. Having survived the extinction event at the end of Cretaceous, birds were diverse and well established worldwide by the time bats came on the scene. Evolutionary biologists wonder what made it possible for bats to evolve in the face of potential competition from birds for food, airspace and roost sites.

Lift is generated because air traveling across the upper surface of an airfoil has farther to travel than air moving across the lower surface. The faster moving air across the upper surface of the airfoil results in lower air pressure above the wing than below the wing, which effectively sucks the wing upward in the air. Meanwhile the air going below the wing is moving slower, which generates more pressure and effectively pushes the wing up. Hence an airplane with air moving over its wings is pulled up from above and pushed up from below at the same time, forces that together constitute lift.

But there they were, clear as day—five tiny claws on each wing of this new fossil bat! Even though it was just a photograph, I could tell that day Onychonycteris was more primitive than anything anyone had seen before. Wow! My heart raced and I was so excited that I danced a little jig in my office. It would be a few years before I would have an opportunity to study the fossil in person—it was subsequently donated to the American Museum of Natural History—but I have never forgotten the thrill of seeing it for the first time in that photograph and understanding its importance.

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