Bats (order Chiroptera) are one of the few orders of mammals that echolocate and the only group with the capacity for powered flight. The order is subdivided into Microchiroptera and Megachiroptera, with an array of characteristics defining each group1, including complex laryngeal echolocation systems in microbats and enhanced visual acuity in megabats. The respective monophylies of the two suborders have been tacitly assumed, although microbat monophyly is uncorroborated by molecular data. Here we present a phylogenetic analysis of bat relationships using DNA sequence data from four nuclear genes and three mitochondrial genes (total of 8,230 base pairs), indicating that microbat families in the superfamily Rhinolophoidea are more closely related to megabats than they are to other microbats. This implies that echolocation systems either evolved independently in rhinolophoids and other microbats or were lost in the evolution of megabats. Our data also reject flying lemur (order Dermoptera) as the bat sister group, indicating that presumed shared derived characters for flying lemurs and bats2 are convergent features that evolved in association with gliding and flight, respectively.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.83 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Novacek, M. J. in Proceedings of the 5th International Bat Research Conference (eds Wilson, D. E. & Gardner, A. L. ) 317–330 (Texas Tech, Lubbock, 1980).
Simmons, N. B. Bat relationships and the origin of flight. Symp. Zool. Soc. London 67, 27–43 (1995).
Hill, J. E. & Smith,, J. D. in Bats: A Natural History (Heffers, England, 1984).
Simmons, N. B. & Geisler, J. H. Phylogenetic relationships of Icaronycteris, Archaeonycteris, Hassianycteris and Palaeochiropteryx to extant bat lineages, with comments on the evolution of echolocation and foraging strategies in Microchiroptera. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 235, 1–182 (1998).
Pumo,, D. E. et al. Complete mitochondrial genome of a neotropical fruit bat, Artibeus jamaicensis, and a new hypothesis of relationships of bats to other Eutherian mammals. J. Mol. Evol. 47, 709–717 (1998).
Springer, M. S., Amrine, H. M., Burk, A. & Stanhope, M. J. Additional support for Afrotheria and Paenungulata, the performance of mitochondrial versus nuclear genes, and the impact of data partitions with heterogenous base composition. Syst. Biol. 48, 65–75 (1999).
Swofford,, D. L. PAUP*. Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony (*and Other Methods). Version 4. (Sinauer, Sunderland, MA, 1998).
Cummings, M. P., Otto, S. P. & Wakeley, J. Sampling properties of DNA sequence data in phylogenetic analysis. Mol. Biol. Evol. 12, 814–822 (1995).
Swofford, D. L., Olsen, G. J., Waddell, P. J. & Hillis,, D. M. in Molecular Systematics (eds Hillis, D. M., Moritz, C. & Mable, B. K.) 407–514 (Sinauer, Sunderland, MA, 1996).
Hutcheon, J. M., Kirsh, J. A. W & Pettigrew,, J. D. Base-compositional biases and the bat problem. III.The question of microchiropteran monophyly. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 353, 607–617 (1998).
Woodburne, M. O. & Swisher,, C. C. in Geochronology, Time Scales and Global Stratigraphic Correlation (eds Beggren, W. A., Kent, D. V., Aubry, M. & Hardenbol, J.) Special Publ. Soc. Sedim. Geol. 54 335–364 (Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1995).
Altringham, J. D. Bats: Biology and Behaviour. (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1996).
Miller, G. S. The families and genera of bats. Bull. US Natl Mus. 57, 1–282 (1907).
Novacek, M. J. & Wyss, A. R. Higher-level relationships of the recent eutherian orders: morphological evidence. Cladistics 2, 257–287 (1986).
Beard,, K. C. in Primates and their relatives in phylogenetic perspective (ed. MacPhee, R. D. E.) 63–90 (Plenum, New York, 1993).
Rayner, J. M. V. The cost of being a bat. Nature 350, 383–384 (1991).
Gould, E. Evidence for echolocation in the Tenrecidae of Madagascar. Proc. Am. Phil. Soc. 109, 352–360 (1965).
Tomasi, T. E. Echolocation by the short-tailed shrew Blarina brevicauda. J. Mammal. 60, 751–759 (1979).
Forsman, K. A. & Malmquist,, M. G. Evidence for echolocation in the common shrew, Sorex araneus. J. Zool. Lond. 216, 655–662 (1988).
Speakman,, J. R & Racey, P. A. No cost of echolocation for bats in flight. Nature 350, 421–423 (1991).
Kalko, E. K. V. Coupling of sound emission and wing-beat in naturally foraging European pipistrelle (Microchiroptera: Vespertilionidae). Folia Zool. 43, 363–376 (1994).
Springer, M. S. et al. Endemic African mammals shake the phylogenetic tree. Nature 388, 61–64 (1997).
Stanhope, M. J. et al. Molecular evidence for multiple origins of Insectivora and for a new order of endemic African insectivore mammals. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 95, 9967–9972 (1998).
Kishino, H. & Hasegawa, M. Evaluation of the maximum likelihood estimate of the evolutionary tree topologies from DNA sequence data, and the branching order within Hominoidea. J. Mol. Evol. 29, 170–179.
Templeton, A. R. Phylogenetic inference from restriction endonuclease cleavage site maps with particular reference to the evolution of humans and the apes. Evolution 37, 221–244 (1983).
Lyons-Weiler, J., Hoelzer, G. A. & Tausch, R. J. Relative Apparent Synapomorphy Analysis (RASA) I: the statistical measurement of phylogenetic signal. Mol. Biol. Evol. 13, 749–757 (1996).
This work was supported by grants from the Training and Mobility of Researchers programme of the European Commission to M.J.S., and the National Science Foundation to M.S.S.
About this article
Cite this article
Teeling, E., Scally, M., Kao, D. et al. Molecular evidence regarding the origin of echolocation and flight in bats. Nature 403, 188–192 (2000) doi:10.1038/35003188
Molecular Biology and Evolution (2019)
Multiple radiations of spiny mice (Rodentia: Acomys) in dry open habitats of Afro-Arabia: evidence from a multi-locus phylogeny
BMC Evolutionary Biology (2019)
Advances in systematics of bats: towards a consensus on species delimitation and classifications through integrative taxonomy
Journal of Mammalogy (2019)
Postcranial heterochrony, modularity, integration and disparity in the prenatal ossification in bats (Chiroptera)
BMC Evolutionary Biology (2019)
Serological Evidence of Thailand Orthohantavirus or Antigenically Related Virus Infection Among Rodents in a Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology Endemic Area, Girandurukotte, Sri Lanka
Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases (2019)