Large-eared slit-faced bat Nycteris macrotis, copyright Jakob Fahr.

Belongs within: Scrotifera.
Contains: Pteropodidae, Rhinolophoidea, Noctilionoidea, Natalidae, Molossidae, Miniopterus, Vespertilionidae, Emballonuridae.

The Chiroptera are the bats, easily the most distinctive group of mammals and the only one to develop flight. Older classifications divided bats between the Megachiroptera (Old World fruit bats, Pteropodidae) and Microchiroptera (echolocating bats), but more recent studies have indicated that the Rhinolophoidea (horseshoe bats and allies) are more closely related to the pteropodids than to other ‘microchiropterans’. The remaining microchiropterans form a clade Yangochiroptera in which the premaxillary and maxillary bones of the skull have become fused. A number of early fossil forms probably lie outside the chiropteran crown clade though as yet all such forms known already possessed well-developed wings.

Characters (from Miller 1907): Mammals with front limbs modified for true flight, the fingers greatly elongated (the third usually at least equal to head and body) and joined together by a membrane which extends to sides of body and legs; shoulder girdle much more developed than pelvis, sternum usually keeled; knee directed backward owing to rotation of leg for support of wing membrane.

<==Chiroptera (see below for synonymy)
    |  i. s.: PaleunycterisKJ70
    |         ParadoxonycterisKJ70
    |         Tanzanycteris Gunnell, Jacobs et al. 2003 [Tanzanycterididae]GJ03
    |           `--*T. mannardi Gunnell, Jacobs et al. 2003GJ03
    |--Onychonycteris Simmons, Seymour et al. 2008 [Onychonycteridae]SS08
    |    `--*O. finneyi Simmons, Seymour et al. 2008SS08
    `--+--Icaronycteris Jepsen 1966SS08, D07 [Icaronycterididae]
       |    |--I. indexSS08
       |    `--I. menui Russell, Louis & Savage 1973RLS73
       `--+--Archaeonycterididae [Archaeonycterinae]LA02
          |    |--Australonycteris Hand, Novacek et al. 1994LA02
          |    |    `--*A. clarkae Hand, Novacek et al. 1994LA02
          |    `--Archaeonycteris Revilliod 1917SS08, RLS73
          |         |--A. brailloni Russell, Louis & Savage 1973RLS73
          |         |--A. praecursorOB13
          |         |--A. revilliodiBS07
          |         `--A. trigonodonRLS73
          `--+--Hassianycteris [Hassionycterididae]SS08
             |    `--H. messelensisS12
                |    |--Cecilionycteris priscaKJ70, M79
                |    `--Palaeochiropteryx Revilliod 1917SM93
                |         |--P. spiegeliBS07
                |         `--P. tupaiodonGJ03
                   |    |--PteropodidaeFS15
                   |    `--RhinolophoideaFS15
                   `--Yangochiroptera [Noctiliones, Noctilionina, Nyctophili, Nyctophilina]ST01
                        `--+--+--Myzopoda Milne Edwards & Grandidier 1878FS15, M07 (see below for synonymy)
                           |  |    |--*M. auritaM07
                           |  |    `--M. schliemanniMJ11
                           |  `--VespertilionoideaMJ11
                           |       |  i. s.: PhilistidaeMJ11
                           |       |           |--Dizzya exsultansMJ11, GH99
                           |       |           `--Philisis Sigé 1985SM93
                           |       |--NatalidaeMJ11
                           |       `--+--MolossidaeMJ11
                           |          `--+--MiniopterusMJ11
                           |             `--VespertilionidaeSS08
                                `--Nycteridae [Nycterides, Nycterididae, Nycterina, Nycterinae]MJ11
                                     |--Chibanycteris herbertiMJ11, OB13
                                     `--Nycteris Geoffroy 1803 (see below for synonymy)M07
                                          |  i. s.: N. aethiopicaM07
                                          |         N. capensisM07
                                          |         N. fuliginosaM07
                                          |         N. luteolaM07
                                          |--+--N. gambiensisFS15
                                          |  `--N. thebaica Geoffroy Saint Hilaire 1818FS15, A-OABA00
                                          `--+--+--N. madagascariensisFS15
                                             |  `--+--N. macrotisFS15
                                             |     `--N. vinsoniFS15
                                             `--+--+--+--N. parisiiFS15
                                                |  |  `--N. woodiFS15
                                                |  `--+--N. grandisFS15
                                                |     `--+--*N. hispidaM07, FS15 (see below for synonymy)
                                                |        `--N. auritaFS15
                                                `--+--+--N. javanicaFS15 [=*Pelatia javanicaM07, *Petalia javanicaM07]
                                                   |  `--N. tragataFS15
                                                   `--+--N. argeFS15
                                                      |--N. intermediaF15
                                                      |--N. majorFS15
                                                      `--N. nanaFS15

Chiroptera [Animalivora, Anistiophori, Apo-Chiroptera, Chauve-souris, Chiropteres, Istiophori, Microchiroptera, Palaeochiropterygoidea, Phyllostomata]

Myzopoda Milne Edwards & Grandidier 1878FS15, M07 [=Myxopoda Dobson 1878M07; Myxopodeae, MyzopodidaeMJ11]

Nycteris Geoffroy 1803 [=Nicteris Desmarest 1803, Nycterus Fischer 1813; incl. Nycterops Gray 1866, Petalia Gray 1838, Pelatia Gray 1866]M07

*Nycteris hispidaM07, FS15 [=Vespertilio hispidusM07; incl. *Nycterops pilosaM07]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A-OABA00] Al-Omari, K. A., M. A. Abu Baker & Z. S. Amr. 2000. First record of the Egyptian slit-faced bat, Nycteris thebaica, from Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East 21: 5–7.

[BS07] Bloch, J. I., M. T. Silcox, D. M. Boyer & E. J. Sargis. 2007. New Paleocene skeletons and the relationship of plesiadapiforms to crown-clade primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 104 (4): 1159–1164.

[D07] Dixon, D. 2007. The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures. Hermes House: London.

[FS15] Faurby, S., & J.-C. Svenning. 2015. A species-level phylogeny of all extant and late Quaternary extinct mammals using a novel heuristic-hierarchical Bayesian approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 14–26.

[GH99] Gheerbrant, E., & J.-L. Hartenberger. 1999. Nouveau mammifère insectivore (?Lipotyphla, ?Erinaceomorpha) de l’Eocène inférieur de Chambi (Tunisie). Paläontologische Zeitschrift 73 (1–2): 143–156.

[GJ03] Gunnell, G. F., B. F. Jacobs, P. S. Herendeen, J. J. Head, E. Kowalski, C. P. Msuya, F. A. Mizambwa, T. Harrison, J. Habersetzer & G. Storch. 2003. Oldest placental mammal from sub-Saharan Africa: Eocene microbat from Tazania—evidence for early evolution of sophisticated echolocation. Palaeontologica Electronica 5: 3.

[KJ70] Koopman, K. F., & J. K. Jones Jr. 1970. Classification of bats. In: Slaughter, B. H., & D. W. Walton (eds) About Bats pp. 22–28. Southern Methodist University Press: Dallas.

[LA02] Long, J., M. Archer, T. Flannery & S. Hand. 2002. Prehistoric Mammals of Australia and New Guinea: One Hundred Million Years of Evolution. University of New South Wales Press: Sydney.

[MJ11] Meredith, R. W., J. E. Janečka, J. Gatesy, O. A. Ryder, C. A. Fisher, E. C. Teeling, A. Goodbla, E. Eizirik, T. L. L. Simão, T. Stadler, D. L. Rabosky, R. L. Honeycutt, J. J. Flynn, C. M. Ingram, C. Steiner, T. L. Williams, T. J. Robinson, A. Burk-Herrick, M. Westerman, N. A. Ayoub, M. S. Springer & W. J. Murphy. 2011. Impacts of the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution and KPg extinction on mammal diversification. Science 334: 521–524.

[M07] Miller, G. S., Jr. 1907. The families and genera of bats. Smithsonian Institution, United States National Museum, Bulletin 57: i–xvii, 1–282, pls 1–14.

[M79] Müller, A. H. 1979. Fossilization (taphonomy). In: Robison, R. A., & C. Teichert (eds) Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology pt A. Introduction. Fossilisation (Taphonomy), Biogeography and Biostratigraphy pp. A2–A78. The Geological Society of America, Inc.: Boulder (Colorado), and The University of Kansas: Lawrence (Kansas).

[OB13] O’Leary, M. A., J. I. Bloch, J. J. Flynn, T. J. Gaudin, A. Giallombardo, N. P. Giannini, S. L. Goldberg, B. P. Kraatz, Z.-X. Luo, J. Meng, X. Ni, M. J. Novacek, F. A. Perini, Z. S. Randall, G. W. Rougier, E. J. Sargis, M. T. Silcox, N. B. Simmons, M. Spaulding, P. M. Velazco, M. Weksler, J. R. Wible & A. L. Cirranello. 2013. The placental mammal ancestor and the post-K–Pg radiation of placentals. Science 339: 662–667.

[RLS73] Russell, D. E., P. Louis & D. E. Savage. 1973. Chiroptera and Dermoptera of the French early Eocene. University of California Publications in Geological Sciences 95: 1–57.

[S12] Schaal, S. 2012. Messel Pit fossil site—the legacy of the environment and life of the Eocene. In: Talent, J. A. (ed.) Earth and Life: Global biodiversity, extinction intervals and biogeographic perturbations through time pp. 225–236. Springer.

[SS08] Simmons, N. B., K. L. Seymour, J. Habersetzer & G. F. Gunnell. 2008. Primitive Early Eocene bat from Wyoming and the evolution of flight and echolocation. Nature 451: 818–822.

[ST01] Springer, M. S., E. C. Teeling, O. Madsen, M. J. Stanhope & W. W. de Jong. 2001. Integrated fossil and molecular data reconstruct bat echolocation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 98 (11): 6241–6246.

[SM93] Stucky, R. K., & M. C. McKenna. 1993. Mammalia. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 739–771. Chapman & Hall: London.

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