Ancient Dental Records Suggest Nectar-Drinking Bat Was Actually Omnivorous

Using fossil teeth, researchers from Stony Brook University have found an ancient nectar-drinking bat was probably omnivorous. (Photo : Michael Hanson)

Fossil teeth can reveal an ancient species' deepest, darkest secrets. In a recent study, researchers from Stony Brook University used a single fossilized molar to reveal that the oldest known nectar-drinking bat, scientifically known as Palynephyllum antimaster, was probably omnivorous.

Researchers were able to unravel the species' eating habits based on a skull model developed using evidence provided in dental measurements. To estimate the animals' skull length, researchers measured the same molars and skulls of other living nectar-feeding bats. Using this information, they were then able to estimate the bat's bite force and body size, and interpret its diet and omnivorous transition, according to a news release.
"A longstanding hypothesis holds that species shift to nectar feeding gradually, by first eating a mix of insects and nectar, but this has not been tested with fossils," Liliana Dávalos, one of the study researchers and a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University, said in the release.

For their study, researchers examined Palynephyllum molars collected from the Miocene of La Venta, Colombia. Twelve million years ago -- when Palynephyllum glided through the skies -- this area of South America was home to a wide variety of species. Similar to other modern nectar-drinking relatives, the fossil molars were narrow and their cusps were reduced and flattened. The evolution of cusp morphology in response to methods of feeding makes mammalian molars an important indicator of what was being eaten.

"Our analyses show that Palynephyllum could not have fed exclusively on nectar, and it likely supplemented its diet with protein-rich insects, which supports this hypothesis," Dávalos added.

Foraging solely for nectar, which is basically sugar water, is extremely physiologically demanding and requires special metabolic adaptations in order to rapidly convert sugar into energy. However, for that reason, a switch from protein-rich insects to carbohydrate-rich nectar diets is a valuable indication of evolutionary behaviors and body size changes.

"We came up with a way to visualize what this animal looked like based on rigorous statistical methods," Laurel Yohe, lead author and Ph.D. candidate in Stony Brook's Department of Ecology and Evolution, explained. "In biology, there are different levels at which we find variation, and it is important to keep track of them. There is measurement variation, variation among species and individuals, and the samples cannot be assumed to be independent because the organisms are related to one another through common descent. Our models and estimations account for all of that."

Their study was recently published in the Royal Society's journal Biology Letters.


BatsRule!/\^._.^/\Help Save WildLife

Articles,67,Audio,15,Backyard,10,Barbed Wire,21,Bat Art,34,Bat Books,70,Bat Box,26,Bat Clothing,13,Bat Issues,499,Bats for Children,26,Bats for the Home,61,Electrocution,7,Events,33,info on bats,455,Jackie Sparrow,22,Microbats,410,Misc,64,Netting,32,Newsletter,4,Promoting,124,Rehab,60,Rehab 2011,1,Rehab 2012,19,Rehab 2013,10,Rehab 2014,6,Rehab 2015,103,Rehab 2016,99,Rehab 2017,9,Release Cage,2,RESCUE,59,Rescue 2012,3,RESCUE 2013,11,RESCUE 2014,8,RESCUE 2015,24,Rescue 2016,12,RESCUE 2017,1,Rob Mies,11,Shooting,2,Vegetation,23,Video,420,Virus,110,WebSites-Bat,46,
Megabats and Microbats: Ancient Dental Records Suggest Nectar-Drinking Bat Was Actually Omnivorous
Ancient Dental Records Suggest Nectar-Drinking Bat Was Actually Omnivorous
Megabats and Microbats
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Readmore Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS CONTENT IS PREMIUM Please share to unlock Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy