The fossil of a large prehistoric bat, believed to walk on all fours, has been discovered in New Zealand. The fossilised remains of the new species, named Mystacina miocenalis, were found in central Otago last month, in sediment from the remains of a 16 million year old subtropical rainforest.
The new bat is related to two of the three species of extant bat currently living in New Zealand—the greater short-tailed bat, Mystacina robusta, and the lesser short-tailed bat, Mystacina tuberculata. These bats scuttle along the forest floor by furling up their wings and turning their hind feet backwards to walk. Fossilised remains of the limb bones of Mystacina miocenalis show that it walked in the same manner as its descendants.
Where the modern and ancient bats differ is their size, and this has led some newspapers and science outlets to declarie that it is three times larger than the “average” bat, making it some kind of giant “Bat-man”. Unfortunately for fans of Bruce Wayne, the prehistoric bat is estimated to weigh around 40 grams, which is the weight of the average bat species today, like the fruit foxes. What its discoverers meant was that Mystacina miocenalis is three times larger than the average New Zealand bat, which are much smaller and weigh between 10 and 22 grams.
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