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 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).
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…
- Desmodontines: the amazing vampire bats
- Giant extinct vampire bats: bane of the Pleistocene megafauna
- Camazotz and the age of vampires
- Dark origins: the mysterious evolution of blood-feeding in bats
- A new hypothesis on the evolution of blood-feeding: food source duality involving nectarivory. Catchy, no?
- The most terrestrial of bats
- I stroked a pipistrelle
- Red bats
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.