Large-eared slit-faced bat Nycteris macrotis, copyright Jakob Fahr.

Belongs within: Scrotifera.
Contains: Pteropodidae, Rhinolophoidea, Noctilionoidea, Natalidae, Molossidae, Miniopterus, Vespertilionidae, Emballonuridae.

The Chiroptera are the bats, easily the most distinctive group of mammals and the only one to develop flight. Older classifications divided bats between the Megachiroptera (Old World fruit bats, Pteropodidae) and Microchiroptera (echolocating bats), but more recent studies have indicated that the Rhinolophoidea (horseshoe bats and allies) are more closely related to the pteropodids than to other 'microchiropterans'. The remaining microchiropterans form a clade Yangochiroptera in which the premaxillary and maxillary bones of the skull have become fused. A number of early fossil forms probably lie outside the chiropteran crown clade though as yet all such forms known already possessed well-developed wings.

Characters (from Miller 1907): Mammals with front limbs modified for true flight, the fingers greatly elongated (the third usually at least equal to head and body) and joined together by a membrane which extends to sides of body and legs; shoulder girdle much more developed than pelvis, sternum usually keeled; knee directed backward owing to rotation of leg for support of wing membrane.

<==Chiroptera (see below for synonymy)
    |  i. s.: Paleunycteris KJ70
    |         Paradoxonycteris KJ70
    |         Tanzanycteris Gunnell, Jacobs et al. 2003 [Tanzanycterididae] GJ03
    |           `--*T. mannardi Gunnell, Jacobs et al. 2003 GJ03
    |--Onychonycteris Simmons, Seymour et al. 2008 [Onychonycteridae] SS08
    |    `--*O. finneyi Simmons, Seymour et al. 2008 SS08
    `--+--Icaronycteris Jepsen 1966 SS08, D07 [Icaronycterididae]
       |    |--I. index SS08
       |    `--I. menui Russell, Louis & Savage 1973 RLS73
       `--+--Archaeonycterididae [Archaeonycterinae] LA02
          |    |--Australonycteris Hand, Novacek et al. 1994 LA02
          |    |    `--*A. clarkae Hand, Novacek et al. 1994 LA02
          |    `--Archaeonycteris Revilliod 1917 SS08, RLS73
          |         |--A. brailloni Russell, Louis & Savage 1973 RLS73
          |         |--A. praecursor OB13
          |         |--A. revilliodi BS07
          |         `--A. trigonodon RLS73
          `--+--Hassianycteris [Hassionycterididae] SS08
             |    `--H. messelensis S12
             `--+--Palaeochiropterygidae ST01
                |    |--Cecilionycteris prisca KJ70, M79
                |    `--Palaeochiropteryx SS08
                |         |--P. spiegeli BS07
                |         `--P. tupaiodon GJ03
                `--+--Yinpterochiroptera ST01
                   |    |--Pteropodidae FS15
                   |    `--Rhinolophoidea FS15
                   `--Yangochiroptera [Noctiliones, Noctilionina, Nyctophili, Nyctophilina] ST01
                        |--Noctilionoidea FS15
                        `--+--+--Myzopoda Milne Edwards & Grandidier 1878 FS15, M07 (see below for synonymy)
                           |  |    |--*M. aurita M07
                           |  |    `--M. schliemanni MJ11
                           |  `--Vespertilionoidea MJ11
                           |       |  i. s.: Philistidae MJ11
                           |       |           |--Dizzya exsultans MJ11, GH99
                           |       |           `--Philisis GJ03
                           |       |--Natalidae MJ11
                           |       `--+--Molossidae MJ11
                           |          `--+--Miniopterus MJ11
                           |             `--Vespertilionidae SS08
                           `--Emballonuroidea MJ11
                                |--Emballonuridae FS15
                                `--Nycteridae [Nycterides, Nycterididae, Nycterina, Nycterinae] MJ11
                                     |--Chibanycteris herberti MJ11, OB13
                                     `--Nycteris Geoffroy 1803 (see below for synonymy) M07
                                          |  i. s.: N. aethiopica M07
                                          |         N. capensis M07
                                          |         N. fuliginosa M07
                                          |         N. luteola M07
                                          |--+--N. gambiensis FS15
                                          |  `--N. thebaica Geoffroy Saint Hilaire 1818 FS15, A-OABA00
                                          `--+--+--N. madagascariensis FS15
                                             |  `--+--N. macrotis FS15
                                             |     `--N. vinsoni FS15
                                             `--+--+--+--N. parisii FS15
                                                |  |  `--N. woodi FS15
                                                |  `--+--N. grandis FS15
                                                |     `--+--*N. hispida M07, FS15 (see below for synonymy)
                                                |        `--N. aurita FS15
                                                `--+--+--N. javanica FS15 (see below for synonymy)
                                                   |  `--N. tragata FS15
                                                   `--+--N. arge FS15
                                                      |--N. intermedia F15
                                                      |--N. major FS15
                                                      `--N. nana FS15

Chiroptera [Animalivora, Anistiophori, Apo-Chiroptera, Chauve-souris, Chiropteres, Istiophori, Microchiroptera, Palaeochiropterygoidea, Phyllostomata]

Myzopoda Milne Edwards & Grandidier 1878 FS15, M07 [=Myxopoda Dobson 1878 M07; Myxopodeae, Myzopodidae MJ11]

Nycteris Geoffroy 1803 [=Nicteris Desmarest 1803, Nycterus Fischer 1813; incl. Nycterops Gray 1866, Petalia Gray 1838, Pelatia Gray 1866] M07

*Nycteris hispida M07, FS15 [=Vespertilio hispidus M07; incl. *Nycterops pilosa M07]

Nycteris javanica FS15 [=*Pelatia javanica M07, *Petalia javanica M07]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A-OABA00] Al-Omari, K. A., M. A. Abu Baker & Z. S. Amr. 2000. First record of the Egyptian slit-faced bat, Nycteris thebaica, from Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East 21: 5–7.

[BS07] Bloch, J. I., M. T. Silcox, D. M. Boyer & E. J. Sargis. 2007. New Paleocene skeletons and the relationship of plesiadapiforms to crown-clade primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 104 (4): 1159–1164.

[D07] Dixon, D. 2007. The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures. Hermes House: London.

[FS15] Faurby, S., & J.-C. Svenning. 2015. A species-level phylogeny of all extant and late Quaternary extinct mammals using a novel heuristic-hierarchical Bayesian approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 14–26.

[GH99] Gheerbrant, E., & J.-L. Hartenberger. 1999. Nouveau mammifère insectivore (?Lipotyphla, ?Erinaceomorpha) de l’Eocène inférieur de Chambi (Tunisie). Paläontologische Zeitschrift 73 (1–2): 143–156.

[GJ03] Gunnell, G. F., B. F. Jacobs, P. S. Herendeen, J. J. Head, E. Kowalski, C. P. Msuya, F. A. Mizambwa, T. Harrison, J. Habersetzer & G. Storch. 2003. Oldest placental mammal from sub-Saharan Africa: Eocene microbat from Tazania—evidence for early evolution of sophisticated echolocation. Palaeontologica Electronica 5: 3.

[KJ70] Koopman, K. F., & J. K. Jones Jr. 1970. Classification of bats. In: Slaughter, B. H., & D. W. Walton (eds) About Bats pp. 22–28. Southern Methodist University Press: Dallas.

[LA02] Long, J., M. Archer, T. Flannery & S. Hand. 2002. Prehistoric Mammals of Australia and New Guinea: One Hundred Million Years of Evolution. University of New South Wales Press: Sydney.

[MJ11] Meredith, R. W., J. E. Janečka, J. Gatesy, O. A. Ryder, C. A. Fisher, E. C. Teeling, A. Goodbla, E. Eizirik, T. L. L. Simão, T. Stadler, D. L. Rabosky, R. L. Honeycutt, J. J. Flynn, C. M. Ingram, C. Steiner, T. L. Williams, T. J. Robinson, A. Burk-Herrick, M. Westerman, N. A. Ayoub, M. S. Springer & W. J. Murphy. 2011. Impacts of the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution and KPg extinction on mammal diversification. Science 334: 521–524.

[M07] Miller, G. S., Jr. 1907. The families and genera of bats. Smithsonian Institution, United States National Museum, Bulletin 57: i–xvii, 1–282, pls 1–14.

[M79] Müller, A. H. 1979. Fossilization (taphonomy). In: Robison, R. A., & C. Teichert (eds) Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology pt A. Introduction. Fossilisation (Taphonomy), Biogeography and Biostratigraphy pp. A2–A78. The Geological Society of America, Inc.: Boulder (Colorado), and The University of Kansas: Lawrence (Kansas).

[OB13] O'Leary, M. A., J. I. Bloch, J. J. Flynn, T. J. Gaudin, A. Giallombardo, N. P. Giannini, S. L. Goldberg, B. P. Kraatz, Z.-X. Luo, J. Meng, X. Ni, M. J. Novacek, F. A. Perini, Z. S. Randall, G. W. Rougier, E. J. Sargis, M. T. Silcox, N. B. Simmons, M. Spaulding, P. M. Velazco, M. Weksler, J. R. Wible & A. L. Cirranello. 2013. The placental mammal ancestor and the post-K–Pg radiation of placentals. Science 339: 662–667.

[RLS73] Russell, D. E., P. Louis & D. E. Savage. 1973. Chiroptera and Dermoptera of the French early Eocene. University of California Publications in Geological Sciences 95: 1–57.

[S12] Schaal, S. 2012. Messel Pit fossil site—the legacy of the environment and life of the Eocene. In: Talent, J. A. (ed.) Earth and Life: Global biodiversity, extinction intervals and biogeographic perturbations through time pp. 225–236. Springer.

[SS08] Simmons, N. B., K. L. Seymour, J. Habersetzer & G. F. Gunnell. 2008. Primitive Early Eocene bat from Wyoming and the evolution of flight and echolocation. Nature 451: 818–822.

[ST01] Springer, M. S., E. C. Teeling, O. Madsen, M. J. Stanhope & W. W. de Jong. 2001. Integrated fossil and molecular data reconstruct bat echolocation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 98 (11): 6241–6246.

Last updated: 6 August 2018.

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