Sunday, 21 June 2015

Giant 'Walking Bat' Once Prowled Rainforest Floors

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | June 19, 2015 07:10am ET

About 16 million years ago, a giant bat used all four of its limbs to stalk around the subtropical rainforest of modern-day New Zealand, a new study finds.

The bat, a newly discovered species (Mystacina miocenalis), is large, about three times heavier than a modern bat, the researchers said. It's related to Mystacina tuberculata, a bat that still lives in New Zealand's old-growth forests.

Researchers found the bat fossil in sediment from the site of Lake Manuherikia, a vast prehistoric body of water once located on New Zealand's South Island. The lake is a favorite digging ground for paleontologists, who have found fossilized frogs, lizards, birds, crocodiles and turtles there over the years. A subtropical rainforest surrounded the lake during the early Miocene Epoch, between 19 million and 16 million years ago, when the bat strode around the forest, the researchers said.

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