Monday, March 21, 2005

371: Biomechanics: Independent evolution of running in vampire bats

Biomechanics: Independent evolution of running in vampire bats:

Most tetrapods have retained terrestrial locomotion since it evolved in the Palaeozoic era1, 2, but bats have become so specialized for flight that they have almost lost the ability to manoeuvre on land at all3, 4. Vampire bats, which sneak up on their prey along the ground, are an important exception. Here we show that common vampire bats can also run by using a unique bounding gait, in which the forelimbs instead of the hindlimbs are recruited for force production as the wings are much more powerful than the legs. This ability to run seems to have evolved independently within the bat lineage. …

The absence of a running gait in all other bat species so far surveyed indicates that running may have been lost early in the evolution of bats, evolving afresh in the vampires at a later time.
Evolution of running. Science is just fascinating.