Giant bat: Remains of extinct burrowing bat found in New Zealand

Sunday, 14 Jan, 2018

The fossilised remains of a giant burrowing bat that lived in New Zealand millions of years ago have been discovered by an global team of scientists. The researchers belonging to the University of South Whales and the worldwide scientists found the bones as well teeth of the extinct bat.

According to scientists, this particular bat was thrice the size of a normal bat and was able to walk on all the four legs.

Remains of a relative of the burrowing bat have been discovered, in a shocking find for scientists around the world. The fossils were recover by a team led by UNSW Sydney scientists, including the study's first author, UNSW Professor Sue Hand.

"This weird bat is among the most freakish of all the fossils that we've found", said Te Papa museum curator Alan Tennyson, a New Zealand member of the team which also included scientists from Australia, Britain and the United States.

The fossils of the burrowing bat weigh about 40 grams and make it the biggest burrowing bat which has been discovered to date.

Burrowing bats are peculiar because they not only fly; they also scurry about on all fours, over the forest floor, under leaf litter and along tree branches, while foraging for both animal and plant food.

The bat has been named Vulcanops jennyworthyae after research team member Jenny Worthy who found the fossils, and Vulcan the mythological Roman god of fire and volcanoes. The giant teeth of the Vulcanops jennyworthyae suggest that its diet was different and included more of vertebrates and plants.

Besides these, the ancient creature was much similar to the South American bats and had a varied diet like spiders and a few other insects. A weta dominates the territory of New Zealand and is a common name given to 70 different species.

"This bat was relatively large, with an estimated body mass of ~40 [grams], and its dentition suggests it had an omnivorous diet", the study's abstract reads. Thus, the humans introduced some other varieties of bats in this area to increase the diversity.

Around 50 million years ago, the landmasses of Australia, New Zealand, South America and Antarctica were connected as the last vestiges of the southern supercontinent Gondwana.