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Bat family 36 million years older than thought

bat jaw bone, 30 mya/Gregg Gunnell

From ScienceDaily:

A team of researchers described the two bat species from several sets of fossilized jawbones and teeth unearthed in the Sahara. The findings, reported Feb. 4 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, represent the first formal description of the family in the fossil record and show the sucker-footed bat family to be at least 36 million years older than previously known.

“We’ve assumed for a long time that they were an ancient lineage based on DNA sequence studies that have placed them close to very old groups in the bat family tree,” said Nancy Simmons, co-author and curator-in-charge of the American Museum of Natural History’s Mammalogy Department. But until now, scientists lacked any fossil evidence to confirm it.

It’s impossible to know from the fossils if the extinct species had already evolved their characteristic sucker-feet, but the teeth shed light on another aspect of bat evolution. The presence of sucker-footed bats in Africa at least 37 million years ago supports the theory that this family is one of the most primitive members of a lineage that now dominates South America.

The find provides support for the view that the Noctilionoidea superfamily started out in what is now Africa.

What exactly does “primitive” mean, by the way? In this context? Is it a term that should be retired?

File under: Earlier than thought. Order more disk space today.

File with: Turtle shells moved back to 260 million years ago

and “Fossil tracks from animal 585 mya, 30 million years earlier than thought,” also

“That Cambrian rabbit takes a bow, and offers his audience an irrefutability package

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6 Responses to Bat family 36 million years older than thought

  1. Old World sucker-footed bat (Myzopoda aurita)
    Excerpt: The Old World sucker-footed bat possesses a complex echolocation system and produces remarkably long calls, used to hunt insects, in particular small moths.
    http://www.arkive.org/old-worl.....da-aurita/

    Previous oldest bat:

    Australonycteris clarkae is the oldest bat ever found in the fossil record at 54.6 million years old. The ear bones of Australonycteris show that it could navigate using echolocation just like modern bats.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-340412

    Bat Evolution? – No Transitional Fossils! – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6003501/

  2. OOPS, misread, the 54.6 million year old specimen, with echolocation, is still oldest.

  3. Umm…. the bat family is not older than thought. Molecular phylogenies already placed this split in the Eocene, this is just the first Eocence fossil from the family.

  4. phylogenies are notoriously unreliable:

    Logged Out – Scientists Can’t Find Darwin’s “Tree of Life” Anywhere in Nature by Casey Luskin – Winter 2013
    Excerpt: the record shows that major groups of animals appeared abruptly, without direct evolutionary precursors.
    Because biogeography and fossils have failed to bolster common descent, many evolutionary scientists have turned to molecules—the nucleotide and amino acid sequences of genes and proteins—to establish a phylogenetic tree of life showing the evolutionary relationships between all living organisms.,,,
    Many papers have noted the prevalence of contradictory molecule-based phylogenetic trees. For instance:
    • A 1998 paper in Genome Research observed that “different proteins generate different phylogenetic tree[s].”6
    • A 2009 paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution acknowledged that “evolutionary trees from different genes often have conflicting branching patterns.”7
    • A 2013 paper in Trends in Genetics reported that “the more we learn about genomes the less tree-like we find their evolutionary history to be.”8
    Perhaps the most candid discussion of the problem came in a 2009 review article in New Scientist titled “Why Darwin Was Wrong about the Tree of Life.”9 The author quoted researcher Eric Bapteste explaining that “the holy grail was to build a tree of life,” but “today that project lies in tatters, torn to pieces by an onslaught of negative evidence.” According to the article, “many biologists now argue that the tree concept is obsolete and needs to be discarded.”,,,
    Syvanen succinctly summarized the problem: “We’ve just annihilated the tree of life. It’s not a tree any more, it’s a different topology entirely. What would Darwin have made of that?” ,,,
    “battles between molecules and morphology are being fought across the entire tree of life,” leaving readers with a stark assessment: “Evolutionary trees constructed by studying biological molecules often don’t resemble those drawn up from morphology.”10,,,
    A 2012 paper noted that “phylogenetic conflict is common, and [is] frequently the norm rather than the exception,” since “incongruence between phylogenies derived from morphological versus molecular analyses, and between trees based on different subsets of molecular sequences has become pervasive as datasets have expanded rapidly in both characters and species.”12,,,
    http://www.salvomag.com/new/ar.....ed-out.php

  5. There it is again….

    ….sheds light on evolution

    I love that phrase. It carries with it the illusion that they are actually unearthing solid evidence for evolution instead of just imagining things.

  6. its the geology that is determining the biology evolution here.
    This YEC thinks bats are only post flood. So mechanism did turn a rat into a flying thing.
    No bats before the flood.
    Yet it was instant with no intermediates.
    I just saw a youtube thing on the creation of the old batman series. Hmmm.

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