Bats vary greatly in size. The smallest bat, Craseonycteris thonglongyai (Microchiroptera), weighs less than 2 g and has a wingspan of 12-13 cm, while the largest bats, those of the genus Pteropus (Megachiroptera), weigh up to 1.5 kg and may have a wing span over 2m (Fenton, 1992).
When we look at the differences between the Megachiroptera and the Microchiroptera we can see that that are more differences than just size:
|don’t hibernate||many hibernate|
|complex visual system||less complex visual system|
|only 1 species uses sonar (in the form of tongue clicks)||use sonar (laryngeal sound)|
|no facial ornamentation||facial ornamentation|
|claw on 2nd digit in most||no claw on 2nd digit|
|unmodified cervical vertebrae, ventral head posture||modified cervical vertebrae, dorsal head posture |
(enables them to bend their necks backwards, so that they can hang straight down in a roost and arch their heads back to look around)
|no tail/uropatagium (usually)||tail and uropatagium (usually)|
|large body/eyes||small body/eyes|
|short or absent angular process on dentary||long narrow angular process on dentary|
|well-developed post orbital process||post orbital process generally absent|
|palate extends beyond last upper molar||Palate not extending past last upper molar|
|low, quadritubercular flat molars without W-shape specialised for crushing fruit||Sharp, W-shaped cusp that can shear and crush food|
Check out the Visual dictionary: Bat Morphology for a more visual aid to localise all these bodyparts.
The following is the complete classification of bats:
Order Chiroptera Megachiropteramorpha (unranked name) Suborder Megachiroptera Family Pteropodidae Microchiropteramorpha (unranked name) †
Family Icaronycteridae† Family ArchaeonycteridaeMicrochiropteraformes (unranked name) † Family Palaeochiropterygidae†F amily HassianycteridaeSuborder Microchiroptera Superfamily Emballonuroidea Family Emballonuridae Subfamily Taphozoinae Subfamily Emballonurinae Infraorder Yinochiroptera Superfamily Rhinopomatoidea Family Craseonycteridae Family Rhinopomatidae Superfamily Rhinolophoidea Family Nycteridae Family Megadermatidae Family Rhinolophidae Subfamily Rhinolophinae Subfamily Hipposiderinae Infraorder Yangochiroptera Superfamily Noctilionoidea Family Mystacinidae Family Phyllostomidae Family Mormoopidae Family Noctilionidae Superfamily Nataloidea Family Myzopodidae Family Furipteridae Family Thyropteridae Family Natalidae Superfamily Molossoidea Family Antrozoidae Family Molossidae Subfamily Tomopeatinae Subfamily Molossinae Superfamily Vespertilionoidea Family Vespertilionidae Subfamily Vespertilioninae Subfamily Miniopterinae Subfamily Myotinae Subfamily Murininae Subfamily Kerivoulinae († extinct)
- Kirsch, J. A., J. M. Hutcheon, D.C. Byrnes &;B. D. Llyod. 1998. Affinites and historical zoogeography of the New Zealand Short-tailed bat, Mystacina tuberculata Gray 1843, inferred from DNA-hybridization comparisons. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 5(1): 33-64.
- Simmons, N. B. & J. H. Geisler. 1998. Phylogenetic relationships of Icaronycteris, Archeonycteris, Hassianycteris, and Palaeochiropteryx to extant bat lineages,with comments in microchiroptera. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 235:1-182.
Source: Tree of Life project