Tetrapod Zoology

Big animalivorous microbats

Time only for a picture-of-the-day post… here are portraits of the big animalivorous microbats Otomops (a molossid, of course*), Cheiromeles (also a molossid) and Vampyrum (a phyllostomid). The pic is from Freeman (1984), but you might notice that two of the drawings are based on the photos featured in Walker’s Mammals of the World.

i-cf809edb00bf7844c6fb5f74fb648032-animalivorous-bats-Freeman-1984-Nov-2009.jpg


* I say ‘of course’ as the ‘mops’ part of the name is strongly associated with this group of bats (popularly known as mastiff bats or free-tailed bats). Besides Mops itself (the greater mastiff bats), there’s Platymops, Neoplatymops, Cabreramops, Otomops, Nyctinomops, Eumops and Promops, and the fossil taxa Petramops (Miocene of Australia) and Kiotomops (Miocene of Colombia).

i-45dbd406b0711ebfdf61d22f4dea02d8-Cheiromeles-head-detail-Nov-2009.jpg

Otomops is famous for its enormous ears, while Cheiromeles (the hairless or naked bats) has comparatively small ones [adjacent pic of live Cheiromeles from here]. The two also differ in that the former has a low-set jaw joint and the latter a high-set one. Freeman (1984) suggested that this difference reflects specialisation for soft (Otomops) and hard (Cheiromeles) prey items respectively, with Otomops having a stronger temporal muscle relative to the masseter, and Cheiromeles exhibiting the opposite. Like some other molossids, Otomops gapes wide (90 degree or more) as a threat display and has very long dentary teeth. Cheiromeles has a very neat skull, with stout jaws and a huge sagittal crest that projects posteriorly well beyond the rest of the skull. And I can’t mention Cheiromeles without bringing attention to the weird ‘pockets’ that run along the sides of the body, beneath the wing membranes. It used to be thought that these were for carrying babies (!!). In fact, the bat tucks its wing membranes away inside them (so, mystacinids are far from the only bats that can conceal their wing membranes when not flying). It uses its feet to do this, pushing the wing into the pocket with the help of its opposable first toe (Hill & Smith 1984). Some other neat things: the wing membranes of Cheiromeles attach at the middle of the back (not along the sides of the ribcage), and it’s parasitized by an earwig!

Bats are cool – I’d like to say a lot more but – – no time.

For previous Tet Zoo articles on microbats see…

Ref – –

Freeman, P. W. 1984. Functional analysis of large animalivorous bats (Microchiroptera). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 21, 387-408.

Hill, J. E. & Smith, J. D. 1984. Bats: a Natural History. British Museum (Natural History), London.

Comments

  1. #1 Dartian
    November 19, 2009

    the ‘mops’ part of the name is strongly associated with this group of bats (popularly known as mastiff bats or free-tailed bats). Besides Mops itself (the greater mastiff bats), there’s Platymops, Neoplatymops, Cabreramops, Otomops, Nyctinomops, Eumops and Promops, and the fossil taxa Petramops (Miocene of Australia) and Kiotomops (Miocene of Colombia).

    There’s also Epomops, though it’s not a molossid, or even a microchiropteran, but a pteropodid megabat.

  2. #2 Jerzy
    November 19, 2009

    Time for a stupid-only comment. ;-)

    Giant flightless phyllostomid bat:
    http://www.grouchoreviews.com/reviews/3111

  3. #3 David Marjanović
    November 19, 2009
  4. #4 anon
    November 19, 2009

    Okay, now let’s get photos of them biting a crocodile to death. :-)

  5. #5 Andreas Johansson
    November 19, 2009

    Anyone know what “mops” means, anyway? It doesn’t seem to be in either the Greek nor the Latin dictionary I checked.

  6. #6 Lars Dietz
    November 19, 2009

    In German, “Mops” means pug. I don’t know if this is the source for the bat genus name, but maybe it would make sense.

  7. #7 Darren Naish
    November 19, 2009

    According to Palmer (1904), the generic name Mops (coined by Lesson in 1842) alludes to a Malay word for bat.

    Palmer, T. S. 1904. Index generum mammalium. A list of the genera and families of mammals. North American Fauna 23, 1-984.

    I haven’t seen Palmer (1904), but took this from…

    Braun, J. K. & Mares, M. A. 1995. The mammals of Argentina: an etymology. Mastozoologia Neotropical 2, 173-206.

  8. #8 Dartian
    November 19, 2009

    Darren:

    the generic name Mops (coined by Lesson in 1842)

    Actually, the specific name mops is older than that (if only by two years). Henri de Blainville gave the name Molossus mops to the Malayan free-tailed bat in 1840; this species’ name has since been changed to Mops mops.

    The originally Chinese dog breed pug had, by the way, been imported to Europe already by the 17th century; the breed had become fairly popular too, so it’s reasonable to assume that a contemporary zoologist would be at least aware of it. However, both de Blainville and Lesson were French so they might not have known this breed’s German name, Mops (in French, pug is ‘carlin’).

  9. #9 Darren Naish
    November 19, 2009

    Actually, the specific name mops is older than that (if only by two years).

    Well, ok, but I was specifically referring to the generic name Mops Lesson, 1842. But you’re right (I assume): the specific name presumably has the same origin.

  10. #10 retrieverman
    November 19, 2009

    As was mentioned earlier, a Mops is a pug. In Dutch, it is actually called “mopshond.”

    If you look at a pug really closely, you can see where they got that name for the bats: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/47/Gadget_the_pug_expressive_eyes.jpg

    One little thing, though: Calling these things mastiff bats conflates an error that early dog experts made.

    Because these dogs were so closely associated with the Dutch in seventeenth century, they were called “Dutch mastiffs” in English. William the Silent was supposedly saved by one of these dogs, which barked to alert him to the Spanish assassins that were coming to murder him in the night. The House of Orange loved them so much, and when William of Orange became king of England, he brought some pugs with him. In those days, all mastiffs were cropped, and pugs were no exception.

    Pugs, however, are not mastiffs.

    They are actually short-haired relatives of the Pekingese.

    They may have been used to create the modern bulldog, French bulldog, and possibly the Boston terrier, which are all of definite mastiff-type heritage.

    But pugs themselves are not.

    The Portuguese brought the Breed to Europe from China in the fifteenth century, and through trade with Spain wound up in the Netherlands.

    So they are not Dutch or Mastiffs.

  11. #11 retrieverman
    November 19, 2009

    Pug with cropped ears (and a longer muzzle!): http://media.photobucket.com/image/pug%20history%20cropped%20ears/lufc_vic/PugInLandscape.jpg

    It does look a lot like those bats.

  12. #12 retrieverman
    November 19, 2009

    I have wondered about the etymology of the term “Mops” for German and Dutch pugs. “Bat dog” makes some sense.

    In English, the term pug may be derived from the word “puck,” which we all know as a sprite or imp.

    I wonder if the Dutch traders who eventually began trading with this part of Asia also brought back mastiff bats and new bloodlines for their pug dogs. If they did, then it would make sense that the terms would be conflated.

  13. #13 retrieverman
    November 19, 2009

    According this pug book, the term “Mopshond” comes from the Dutch word for grumbling:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=cvvoZj2Nl0AC&lpg=PA6&ots=hHzvNhTzeG&dq=pug%20william%20the%20silent&pg=PA6#v=onepage&q=pug%20william%20the%20silent&f=false

    But the Malay word for bat seems to me a far more plausible explanation.

  14. #14 Dartian
    November 19, 2009

    it’s parasitized by an earwig!

    And not just one species either, but five (classified in two different genera)! For this and more information (including plenty of excellent photographs) on Cheiromeles torquatus, see Leong et al. (2009).

  15. #15 Andreas Johansson
    November 19, 2009

    [i]Mops[/i] = pug is in Swedish too, but it didn’t occur to me this might have anything to do with the bat names.

  16. #16 Lars Dietz
    November 19, 2009

    On the Malay Wikipedia there’s a list of Malay names for bat species, and I can’t find anything that sounds like “Mops”. The word for bat itself is “kelawar” in modern Malay.
    http://ms.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelawar
    Of course there might be such a name in some language spoken somewhere in southeast Asia, but since the genus Molossus is named after a group of dogs that include mastiffs, I suspect Mops was also named after the dog.
    The species was apparently first named by Frederic Cuvier in 1825:
    http://tinyurl.com/yzjonk3 (p. 49)
    He didn’t say anything about the etymology, so I don’t know why he used the German/Dutch name. (Maybe it was also used or well known in France back then?)

  17. #17 Lars Dietz
    November 19, 2009

    I wrote:
    “He didn’t say anything about the etymology, so I don’t know why he used the German/Dutch name. (Maybe it was also used or well known in France back then?)”
    Here’s a dictionary article by F. Cuvier himself:
    http://tinyurl.com/yajr6lo
    “Le DOGUIN. C’est ce qu’on appelle communement le carlin, le mops”.
    So both names were used in French in the early 19th century.

  18. #18 Dartian
    November 19, 2009

    Lars:

    The species was apparently first named by Frederic Cuvier in 1825

    Good find. Cuvier* does indeed list a species that he calls ‘Dysope indien, dysope[sic] mops‘. Can anyone figure out what species that is? I know that Dysopes[sic] is a synonym for the genus Molossops, so we’re apparently dealing with a molossid.

    * This is, of course, ‘the other Cuvier’, i.e., not to be confused with Georges Cuvier.

    “Le DOGUIN. C’est ce qu’on appelle communement le carlin, le mops”. So both names were used in French in the early 19th century.

    Thanks for that too.

    Information exchange of this kind is why Tet Zoo rules!

  19. #19 Mike Keesey
    November 19, 2009

    Cheiromeles = “hand badger”, I take it? Pretty cool name.

  20. #20 retrieverman
    November 19, 2009

    Thanks for all the information.

    But wasn’t Cuvier of German ancestry?

    So he would have probably been familiar with both terms.

  21. #21 Nathan Myers
    November 19, 2009

    So, thus far, we don’t know whether the dog is named after the bat, or the bat after the dog? Tasty.

  22. #22 Jerzy
    November 19, 2009

    Pug dog is, of course, named so because flat face and low intelligence recall being hit by a bat.

    Sorry, just couldn’t resist. :) Seriously: bulldog bats, Molossidae, Mops are named because straight cut muzzle and wrinkles resemble these dogs. Well, more so in European mastiff bat Taradida (sp?) teniotis.

  23. #23 Mark Evans
    November 19, 2009

    From comment 19:
    “But wasn’t Cuvier of German ancestry?”

    As I’m sure David will elaborate, this isn’t strictly true in as much as Germany didn’t exist.

    G. Cuvier (I won’t give his full name for brevity’s sake) was born in Montbéliard, which was at that time (1769) a francophone Lutheran enclave within eastern France but in the possession of the Duchy of Württemburg (Rudwick 2005). He learnt German during his education in Stuttgart, the duchy’s capital, so he wouldn’t have considered himself German (if that were an option) but he would have been familiar with the culture and language.

    RUDWICK, M. J. S. 2005. Bursting the limits of time. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 708pp.

  24. #24 retrieverman
    November 19, 2009

    Of course, there was no German Empire until 1871. My people were Pomeranians (not the yappy dogs) from Stettin (Sczeczin) at this time. However, there was a German language and German ethnic identity (although there were actually several, but I won’t get into that). The term German (Deutsch) predates the founding of that Empire by several centuries.

    But I thought Cuvier was originally Kuefer, and it had been changed to Cuvier.

  25. #25 retrieverman
    November 19, 2009

    That should be Szczecin in my previous comment.

    I’m descended from Pomeranian German-speaking Lutherans who originally came from Westphalia.

  26. #26 Dartian
    November 20, 2009

    Retrieverman:

    Pugs [...] are actually short-haired relatives of the Pekingese.

    The “primitive” pug illustrated in your link in comment #11 looks quite different from the modern pug. Is it known what the last common ancestor of the pug and the Pekingese would have looked like?

    Lars:

    the genus Molossus is named after a group of dogs that include mastiffs

    And the molossus – or molosser – dogs of Greco-Roman antiquity, in turn, seem to have been named after the Molossian people (an ancient Greek tribe).

    Jerzy:

    Pug dog is, of course, named so because flat face and low intelligence recall being hit by a bat.

    The German 19th century zoologist, Alfred Brehm, called the pug a caricature (‘Zerrbild’) of a dog in his Tierleben. And in contemporary English there’s the expression pug-ugly (or pugly). Poor breed doesn’t have it easy.

    Taradida (sp?)

    Tadarida.

  27. #27 Andreas Johansson
    November 20, 2009

    Of course, there was no German Empire until 1871.

    There was, however, a Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation until 1806, and various German leagues in between.

  28. #28 David Marjanović
    November 20, 2009

    Interesting. I’ve been told the “Georg Küfer the Alsatian” story several times. Must be patriotic fiction if he was really born in Montbéliard.

    Württemburg

    Württemberg. Not pronounced the same.

  29. #29 Mark Evans
    November 21, 2009

    Sorry, I was just going by Rudwick’s spelling of “Württemburg”. David is right.

  30. #30 Jelle Zijlstra
    November 23, 2009

    Some serious mess-up occurred on _Kiotomops_. It’s actually a marsupial (http://www.accefyn.org.co/revista/Vol_27/103/10-ADDITIONAL.pdf). What exactly it is seems to be unclear, though.

  31. #31 Darren Naish
    November 24, 2009

    Wow, Jelle, thanks for that. The relevant section from Czaplewski et al. (2003) is…

    Previously, Takai et al. (1991) described Kiotomops lopezi from the Kyoto site in the Monkey Beds at La Venta. They referred this taxon to the bat family Molossidae; however, it represents a marsupial (F. J. Goin, personal communication). Unlike molossids, the holotype M1 of Kiotomops lacks a talon, hypocone, mesostyle, and lingual cingulum. Like marsupials, it bears large stylar cusps B and D separated by a deep ectoflexus. As in many marsupials, the preparacrista runs from the paracone to stylar cusp B instead of connecting with the parastyle (stylar cusp A) to form a hooklike process as in molossids. The holotype molar also has a low, swollen ridge running from the protocone into the trigon basin (worn in the holotype) which does not occur in bat molars. Thus we remove Kiotomops from the list of La Venta bats and add it to the list of La Venta marsupials.

    Czaplewski N. J., Masanaru T., Naeher, T. M., Shigehara, N. & Setoguchi. T. 2003. Additional bats from the middle Miocene La Venta fauna of Colombia. Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias 27 (103), 263-282.

  32. #32 David Marjanović
    November 24, 2009

    Ain’t that the tooth.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.