Oldest placental mammal from sub-Saharan Africa: Eocene microbat from Tanzania - Evidence for early evolution of sophisticated echolocation

Gregg F. Gunnell, Bonnie Fine Jacobs, Patrick S. Herendeen, Jason J. Head, Elizabeth Kowalski, Charles P. Msuya, Ferdinand A. Mizambwa, Terry Harrison, Jörg Habersetzer, Gerhard Storch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

A partial skeleton of a new fossil microbat, Tanzanycteris mannardi, is the oldest placental mammal found in sub-Saharan Africa. It came from early Lutetian (46 Ma) lake sediments in north-central Tanzania. T. mannardi has enlarged cochleae indicating it was capable of a highly derived form of echolocation. Modern bats sharing similar morphology are capable of precise navigation in dense forest undergrowth. The phylogenetic relationships of T. mannardi are unclear. It shares character states with Eocene Hassianycterididae, with extant Microchiroptera, and with Rhinolophoidea within Microchiroptera. T. mannardi is important in documenting early evolution of sophisticated bat echolocating abilities and demonstrating that Tanzanian crater lakes offer an opportunity for future discoveries of Eocene mammals from the African interior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPalaeontologia Electronica
Volume5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003

Keywords

  • Africa
  • Bats
  • Crater lakes
  • Echolocation
  • Eocene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography

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