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pterosaurs, bats, flying theropods

    The intertwined histories (at least, in my mind)
of theropods, pterosaurs, and bats is yet to be
untangled. No doubt, as Greg Paul has suggested, the
flying theropods drove pterosaurs into extinction, and
bats (who are NOT flying primates, and have never been
secondarily flightless) emerged, so to speak, to
compete with the dinosaurs in the Cenozoic, all three
clades sharing distal airfoils. Theropods differed, of
course, in being bipedal: their hands and legs being,
as it were, separate components for locomotion,
whereas in bats, and presumably most pterosaurs, hands
+ legs were the foundations for flight mechanisms.
    In two months, a major work is appearing, which
will likely reshape our interpretations of bats,
pterosaurs, and flying dinosaurs, reaffirm the work of
Greg Paul and supplement the phylogenetics of bats
being done by Kate Jones and Nancy Simmons.
    T.H. Kunz & M.B. Fenton, eds., 2003. Bat Ecology
(Univ. Chicago Press), 710pp.
    Among the various chapters in this awe-full
compendium, I would urge List members to study:
    T.H. Kunz & Linda F. Lumsden, Ecology of cavity
and foliage roosting bats
    J.D. Altringham & M.B. Fenton, Sensory ecology and
communication in the Chiroptera
    Sharon M. Swartz, Particia W. Freeman, Elizabeth
F. Stockwell, Ecomorphology of bats
    Gareth Jones & Jens Rydell, Attack and defense:
interactions between echolocating bats and their
insect prey
    J.R. Speakman & D.W. Thomas, Physiological ecology
and energetics of bats
    Nancy B. Simmons & T.M. Conway, Evolution of
ecological diversity in bats [with an excellent
elucidation of the known fossil history]
    No doubt, Chris Bennett & Kevian Padian, et al.,
may tire of the comparisons between bats and
pterosaurs, but my feeling is that, during the end
Cretaceous, when the flying dinosaurs out-competed, as
it were, the pterosaurs, diversification of bats may
have been well underway. Insects were adapting their
own ultrasonic receptors to avoid bats etc., but
echolocating abilities of the bats surpassed any such
propensities among the theropods who relied on brains
and vision (to simplify the picture). And the complex
ecological web of insects + dinosaurs + pterosaurs +
bats may have entailed profound adaptations in
environmentally stressed regions of fast-slow
dynamical systems. Dinosaurs, as Greg Paul notes,
during the Cenozoic to date, are surprisingly diverse
in morphology, whereas bats are not. But, without
stepping on scholarly toes, I suggest that bats just
might give some light on ecomorphologies of the
cluttered skies at the end of the Cretaceous: flight
adaptations, vision, vocal/chemical signals, etc. And,
this new book edited by Kunz/Fenton just might provide
us with further extrapolation tools.

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