JOURNAL ARTICLE

High bat (Chiroptera) diversity in the Early Eocene of India

Thierry Smith, Rajendra S Rana, Pieter Missiaen, Kenneth D Rose, Ashok Sahni, Hukam Singh, Lachham Singh
Die Naturwissenschaften 2007, 94 (12): 1003-9
17671774
The geographic origin of bats is still unknown, and fossils of earliest bats are rare and poorly diversified, with, maybe, the exception of Europe. The earliest bats are recorded from the Early Eocene of North America, Europe, North Africa and Australia where they seem to appear suddenly and simultaneously. Until now, the oldest record in Asia was from the Middle Eocene. In this paper, we report the discovery of the oldest bat fauna of Asia dating from the Early Eocene of the Cambay Formation at Vastan Lignite Mine in Western India. The fossil taxa are described on the basis of well-preserved fragments of dentaries and lower teeth. The fauna is highly diversified and is represented by seven species belonging to seven genera and at least four families. Two genera and five species are new. Three species exhibit very primitive dental characters, whereas four others indicate more advanced states. Unexpectedly, this fauna presents strong affinities with the European faunas from the French Paris Basin and the German Messel locality. This could result from the limited fossil record of bats in Asia, but could also suggest new palaeobiogeographic scenarios involving the relative position of India during the Early Eocene.

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