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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017 / 33 million year old Myotis (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae) and the rapid global radiation of modern bats

Gregg F. Gunnell, Richard Smith and Thierry Smith (2017)

33 million year old Myotis (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae) and the rapid global radiation of modern bats

Plos One, 12(3):e0172621.

The bat genus Myotis is represented by 120+ living species and 40+ extinct species and is found on every continent except Antarctica. The time of divergence of Myotis has been contentious as has the time and place of origin of its encompassing group the Vespertilionidae, the most diverse (450+ species) and widely distributed extant bat family. Fossil Myotis species are common, especially in Europe, beginning in the Miocene but earlier records are poor. Recent study of new specimens from the Belgian early Oligocene locality of Boutersem reveals the presence of a relatively large vespertilionid. Morphological comparison and phylogenetic analysis confirms that the new, large form can be confidently assigned to the genus Myotis, making this record the earliest known for that taxon and extending the temporal range of this extant genus to over 33 million years. This suggests that previously published molecular divergence dates for crown myotines (Myotis) are too young by at least 7 million years. Additionally, examination of first fossil appearance data of 1,011 extant placental mammal genera indicates that only 13 first occurred in the middle to late Paleogene (48 to 33 million years ago) and of these, six represent bats, including Myotis. Paleogene members of both major suborders of Chiroptera (Yangochiroptera and Yinpterochiroptera) include extant genera indicating early establishment of successful and long-term adaptive strategies as bats underwent an explosive radiation near the beginning of the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum in the Old World. A second bat adaptive radiation in the New World began coincident with the Mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum.
International Redaction Board, Peer Review, Open Access, Impact Factor, RBINS Collection(s)
Paleontology
Received: November 13, 2016 Accepted: January 31, 2017 Published: March 8, 2017

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