With over 1000 living species, bats are actually one of the largest groups of mammals (besides rodents) and make up 20% of known mammal species. They range in size from the less-than-one-ounce bumblebee bat to the 2.6-pound golden-crowned flying fox. They have diets as diverse as their size, feeding on anything from insects to nectar to blood. Bats are usually not at the top of most people’s “favorite animal” list, but they should be. These are five fascinating facts about bats for Bat Appreciation Day.
Their origins are unknown
Bats are one of the most prolific groups of mammals today, but their early evolutionary history is virtually unknown. The earliest known bat is Icaronycteris from the Green River Formation in Wyoming. This bat fossil is 51 million years old but it doesn’t help figure out how bats evolved their unique body plans or ability to fly because Icaronycteris looks very similar to modern bats. Its anatomical characteristics indicate it likely could already echolocate, so the exact origin of that trait is also unknown. It is possible there are more fossil bats out there to be discovered, but their thin bones don’t often get preserved, making them a rare find.
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