When Bats Took Flight

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  • Published: 12 September 2019
  • Bats pretty much appear in the fossil record as recognizable, full-on, flying bats. And they show up on all of the continents, except Antarctica, around the same time. So where did bats come from? And which of the many weird features that bats have, showed up first?

    Thanks to Ceri Thomas for the early bat illustrations! Check out more of Ceri's paleoart at alphynix.tumblr.com

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: cepnet.mobi/user/pbsdigitalstudios

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    References: docs.google.com/document/d/1VPccWSNkODzBifBt4R-RI8nApVRKe5pSfG8qeouiZqE/edit?usp=sharing
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 1 204

  • Orkun Berk B
    Orkun Berk B  7 hours back

    Bats without flight = Not Exist
    Bats without Ecolocation = Exist
    Yes this is an oversimplication but i think flight first, ecolocation then

    • Rudolph Antler
      Rudolph Antler  24 hours back

      So flying squirrels get no love?

      • Steve Knight
        Steve Knight  1 days back

        Researchers need to look at the Australian Sugar glider

        • SuperBat
          SuperBat  1 days back

          I was there when rat grew wings.

          • loner844
            loner844  2 days back

            personally, I like the idea that bats evolved to fly first, and then became nocturnal and thus began to evolve echolocation as a result. There's no definite evidence for it, but I think it's a solid theory

            • Doel Johon
              Doel Johon  2 days back

              10:06 When Bats became a thing? In modern era, it was 1939, Detective Comics #27.

              • Ed 8
                Ed 8  2 days back

                Long finger echolocating insectivore can be observed in the wild -- the aye aye.

                • Michael McAuliffe
                  Michael McAuliffe  2 days back

                  The first bat was a billionaire laurasiatherian whose parents were murdered during a robbery outside a watering hole. He trained his body, learned to fly, and vowed to fight crime by striking fear into the hearts of evil-doers everywhere.
                  His arch-enemy was Waimanu manneringi.

                  • santiago olascuaga
                    santiago olascuaga  2 days back

                    Eons let me just say, thank you so much for this episode, me and others have been asking for it for a while

                    • Aftab Zafar
                      Aftab Zafar  3 days back

                      Ookay, they can figure out elephant r closely related to hyrax & dugongs yet cannot figure out which animal bats are the most closely related

                      • Benji Sun
                        Benji Sun  3 days back

                        tune in next time for more bat fossils, bat ancestors, bat in the dark... same bat time, same bat channel.

                        • duckwhistle
                          duckwhistle  3 days back

                          I'm thinking they developed gliding, split into two groups, both of which further developed gliding into flying. One was nocturnal and also developed echo location, at the same time they moved to powered flight. The other, became active in the daytime as it moved to powered flight, so never developed echo locaion.

                          • Tala Habern
                            Tala Habern  3 days back

                            I love bats, super interesting, animals!

                            • Matthew Lickers
                              Matthew Lickers  3 days back

                              Oh, Nico Nico Teris

                              • Thekingofwatching
                                Thekingofwatching  3 days back

                                Bats may be from squirrels.

                                • wcdeich4
                                  wcdeich4  3 days back

                                  Why didn't you mention flying foxes don't echo locate? That also seems like evidence for the flight first hypothesis. I guess they could have had echo location & lost it, but that would seem less likely.

                                  • Ediable
                                    Ediable  3 days back

                                    The word bat in swedish translates to "fluttering mouse"

                                    • Liza Tanzawa
                                      Liza Tanzawa  4 days back

                                      Fruit bats don't echolocate OR eat insects, incomplete

                                      • LeatherNeck 1833
                                        LeatherNeck 1833  4 days back

                                        Based on eye structure and abilities (or lack thereof), echolocation came prier to bats becoming nocturnal. Bats don't have adequate eyesight alone to function at night so therefore they were already reliant on their echo-abilities. When did they start flying? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that flight came as a necessity to get out of the trees for forage reasons. Becoming nocturnal may have been a opportunity to fill a void that had (and still does) the ability to sustain a niche market. There was plenty of food to be had and no competition for it. My guess is the order came like this: Flight, Echolocation, and then transitioned to being Nocturnal. The only other animal with flight and echo-abilities combined is the Swiftlet. What's truly amazing are the plants and animals that have evolved to either cater to or avoid detection from bats. Nature is an arms race millions of years in the making!

                                        • Luke A
                                          Luke A  4 days back

                                          Shes the best

                                          • Luke A
                                            Luke A  4 days back

                                            ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

                                            • Jade Damboise Rail
                                              Jade Damboise Rail  4 days back

                                              bats are so cute omg.

                                              • Mohamed Abdelwahab
                                                Mohamed Abdelwahab  4 days back

                                                Was it related to surged gliders

                                                • Makayla
                                                  Makayla  4 days back

                                                  So if bats are related to whales,
                                                  Are they a mini flying Pakicetus with wings?

                                                  • low disk space
                                                    low disk space  4 days back

                                                    *EVERYBODY* *GANGSTA* *TILL* *THE* *RATS* *UNLOCK* *CREATIVE* *MODE*

                                                    • Riusu
                                                      Riusu  5 days back

                                                      If bats are really related to shrews and hedgehogs, some of which use echolocation, then it might be conceveable that their ancestor allready posessed echolocation. they may have just used it for communication though, and developed flight completely unrelated to echolocation, only later using it to catch insects.

                                                      • annoloki
                                                        annoloki  5 days back

                                                        What about the flying foxes? They look like they rely on smell rather than echolocation, which would make sense, being fruit bats, and fruit doesn't need to be chased
                                                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVz8rvIl_vY

                                                        • Cory Strul
                                                          Cory Strul  5 days back

                                                          Could you do a video on the origin of venom in snakes and other animals? I was thinking about that the other day and wondered how these animals got that trait.

                                                          • bru th
                                                            bru th  5 days back

                                                            KM is magical. She is a gift.

                                                            • jody cornelius
                                                              jody cornelius  5 days back

                                                              Great vid. How about one on hyena origin.

                                                              • i want To Comment
                                                                i want To Comment  5 days back

                                                                The bat got its wings when his parents died in a dark alley way

                                                                • Hal F
                                                                  Hal F  5 days back

                                                                  I love bats so much

                                                                  • Antonio Lombardi
                                                                    Antonio Lombardi  5 days back

                                                                    Could you do an episode about Giraffe evolution (and Giraffids in general)?

                                                                    • Quest4Tube
                                                                      Quest4Tube  5 days back

                                                                      Bats were my childhood favourite

                                                                      • Ryu Tamo
                                                                        Ryu Tamo  5 days back

                                                                        This is some great info. I have been looking for bat evolution but there isnt enough material

                                                                        • Graeme Lastname
                                                                          Graeme Lastname  6 days back

                                                                          There are bats that don't echo locate. Have they lost the ability or did they never have it? 🗝 🇦🇺

                                                                          • Marc Abelha
                                                                            Marc Abelha  6 days back

                                                                            You gotta love science, you do!

                                                                            • Michaela Fritz
                                                                              Michaela Fritz  6 days back

                                                                              Ok but when did bats evolve to be so freaking adorable?

                                                                              • cosmosofinfinity
                                                                                cosmosofinfinity  6 days back

                                                                                As for which evolved first, flight or echolocation... Is it known if the body evolves faster than the mind? Because if so, I would definitely put my bets on flight evolving first.

                                                                                • Oni
                                                                                  Oni  6 days back

                                                                                  I'd love to see a video about earthworms

                                                                                  • Darth Belal
                                                                                    Darth Belal  6 days back

                                                                                    I'm just frustrated that bats didn't pick on the quadrupedal, wing finger trick the pterosaurs had. That way, they wouldn't have to hang upside down and could get about on the ground a lot easier......

                                                                                    • Ellie Ernsteen
                                                                                      Ellie Ernsteen  6 days back

                                                                                      can you do a vid on the evolution of intelligence, and another on the evolution of platypuses?

                                                                                      • Robert PuKeyRay
                                                                                        Robert PuKeyRay  6 days back

                                                                                        I think they started as aquatic mammals and had fins instead of wings. Also having echolocation from their whale/dolphin heritage. And dolphins would hangout by the shore. Maybe they where small and ate bugs in a river?

                                                                                        • Lavaughn Ankle
                                                                                          Lavaughn Ankle  6 days back

                                                                                          Hey PBS eons I have a topic for you. Why did mega mammals got so big. And the end of their reign

                                                                                          • Dakotaraptor
                                                                                            Dakotaraptor  6 days back

                                                                                            Bats appearing right after the K-Pg Extinction makes sense since the small pterosaurs that were around were now gone. This left the niche to be filled by the proto-bats.

                                                                                            • Raging Raichu
                                                                                              Raging Raichu  6 days back

                                                                                              Even today, not all bats use echolocation, particularly fruit bats.

                                                                                              • starkiller187
                                                                                                starkiller187  6 days back

                                                                                                Alright let me introduce you to a book called Darkwing

                                                                                                • krshna77
                                                                                                  krshna77  6 days back

                                                                                                  I do not understand why PBS, geneticists, and any scientist refuse to see the obvious truth.



                                                                                                  Bats are nothing more than grave rats which were given wings by our beloved Count Dracula.
                                                                                                  I must go now, duty calls...

                                                                                                  Yes, Master?