Flying Mammals Quick ID guide to the bats of Africa, by Chris and Mathilde Stuart
Flying Mammals Quick ID guide to the bats of Africa, by Chris and Mathilde Stuart, introduces you to the known bat families in Africa and points out typical characteristics that will help you identify the family to which the creature you have observed belongs.
When observing bats, take care not to handle them or their droppings; harmful viruses and diseases can be transmitted from bats to humans and, conversely, from humans to bats. Twenty percent of all mammal species are bats. At least 259 bats occur in Africa: 230 insect-eating bats and 29 fruit-eating bats, two of which are restricted to Indian Ocean offshore islands. This concise guide introduces you to the known bat families in Africa and points out typical characteristics that will help you identify the family to which the creature you have observed belongs. Although this guide is by no means comprehensive, we hope it stimulates an interest in one of nature's most fascinating animal groups.
EVOLUTION OF BATS
Because of the delicate nature of bat bones, very few bat fossils have survived. The oldest known bat fossil, Icaronycteris index, has been dated to about 52.2 million years bp. Where bats fit in the evolutionary tree is still not fully understood and each new generation of taxonomists turns earlier theories on their heads. It is likely that all modern bats evolved from a common ancestor. Bats first split off from other mammal groups during the Late Cretaceous (100-65 mya) before dividing into two major divisions (fruit-eating and insect-eating bats), with 21 distinct families evolving during the Eocene (55-35 mya). At the time of writing, more than 1,400 distinct species were recognised globally. Ancestral bats probably first developed as arboreal gliders - in much the same way as the flying squirrels of today. Over time, bats evolved a flight stroke to become the only true flying mammals, a capacity shared only with birds and a host of insect species. From the fossil record it appears that flight evolved before echolocation. This suggests that the first bats might have been diurnal, with sight having been the key to their success. The advent of feathered predators probably forced them into a nocturnal lifestyle - for which echolocation has distinct advantages. A special word of thanks to Ernest Seamark of African Bats NPC (see page 40) for letting us use many of his excellent photographs and for checking this work, and to Ara Monadjem for the use of some of his images. Other photographers are credited alongside their images. [...]
This is an excerpt from Flying Mammals Quick ID guide to the bats of Africa, by Chris and Mathilde Stuart.
Title: Flying Mammals
Subtitle: Quick ID guide to nests and eggs of southern African birds
Author: Chris Stuart; Mathilde Stuart
Publisher: Penguin Random House South Africa
Imprint: Struik Nature
Cape Town, South Africa 2021
ISBN 9781775847281 / ISBN 978-1-77-584728-1
Softcover, 10 x 18 cm, 40 pages, throughout colour photographs
Stuart, Chris und Stuart, Tilde im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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