An international team of scientist announces Thursday that the fossilized remains of a giant burrowing bat who lived millions of years ago have been found. According to study author Sue Hand from the University of New South Wales. It belonged to “a bat super-family that once spanned the southern landmasses of Australia, New Zealand, South America and possibly Antarctica.” The fossil findings published in Scientific Reports tells that a massive bat was discovered alongside a historic mining town called St. Bathans in New Zealand’s South Island.
For the past 16 years, the scientists have been working where the teeth and bones of the animal, which lived 16 to 19 million years ago. Bat’s body mass is just 40-grams, a weight of 0.8 pounds but the teeth and bones were three times size on an average modern bat and weighed 40 grams (1.4 ounces). Hand said, its “specialized teeth and large size suggest it had a special diet, capable of eating even more plant food as well as small vertebrates — a diet more like some of its South American cousins. We don’t see this in Australasian bats today.
According to researchers, the creatures are quite peculiar, who say the bat once flew and scurried about on all fours, foraging for food beneath leaves and tree branches in the forest. Trevor Worthy, co-author and paleontologist of Flinders University, said in a statement, “The fossils of this spectacular bat and several others in the St. Bathans fauna reveal that the prehistoric aviary that was New Zealand also included a surprising diversity of furry critters alongside the birds.”
New Zealand’s iconic surviving species from this prehistoric time period, like tuataras, moas, and kiwi, evolved alongside various animals such as these bats, land turtles and crocodiles. Paul Scofield, co-author and senior curator of natural history at the Canterbury Museum, said in a statement that they “evolved into a far more complex community” than previously understood.