Hassianycteris - An Eocene Bat
- Hassianycteris messelensis was a bat that lived during the Eocene period (54-38 million years ago). Fossils of this bat have been found in the Messel Shale of Germany. The wingspan was about 40 cm. and the wings were long and narrow. Hassianycteris messelensis weighed about 35 grams. Its diet mainly consisted of insects.
Fossils of the Messel Shale are amazingly well preserved. Creatures that died in the area fell into a lake which had waters that were low in oxygen content. Scavengers were not able to get to them after they went to the bottom.
Hassianycteris is classified in the family Molossidae. There are various living genera and species of this bat family. They are often called "free tailed bats". The tail has a cartilage ring; it goes up and down the vertebrae of the tail. Muscular action causes this motion so that the bat can manipulate the tail membrane in terms of retracting or stretching. This ability helps in maneuvering during flight. The wings of Molossidae bats are long and narrow; this characteristic is a point that living and fossil species of Molossidae bats have in common. At least 16 genera and 85 species of Molossidae bats have been identified.
Nancy B. Simmons and Tenley wrote an article about Molossidae bats for the Tree of Life Project. This excerpt lists the points that Molossidae bats have in common:
1. no connection between m. sternohyoideus and bashihyal.
2. m. ceratohyoideus inserts at least one part onto stylohyal.
3. seventh cervical vertebra and first thoraic vertebra at least partially fused.
4. length of manubrium posterior to lateral process >2.5 times the transverse width.
5. distal acromion process with triangular posterolateral projection.
6. coracoid process curves ventromedially.
7. head of humerus oval or elliptical
8. ischium with large ischial tuberosity that projects dorsally from posterior horizontal ramus.
P.S. The taxonomy of Hassianycteris is:
Species: Hassianycteris messelensis
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