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new Chiroptera paper of interest



James Hutcheon, J.A.W. Kirsch, Theodore Garland, 2002.
A comparative analysis of brain size in relation to
foraging ecology and phylogeny in the Chiroptera.
Brain, Behavior & Evolution 60(3):165-180

This continues James Hutcheon's ongoing investigations
into Chiroptera, in one sense the ecomorphogical
"mirror" of some pterosaurs, as Gregory Paul suggested
in Chapter 15 of DINOSAURS OF THE AIR. In this seminal
paper (which could be replicated by investigating
casts of dinosaur braincases for comparisons), they
examined brains of 63 bats. As their abstract states,
the purpose was to discern if there is a relationship
between brain mass and ecomorphologies of phytophagy,
gleaning, and aerial insectivory...strategies I
believe integral to the success of the pre-K/T flying
dinosaurs. It is likely the flying theropods (and
secondarily flightless taxa, as well) were analogous
to Megachiroptera in being olfactory/vision driven
hunters, whereas extant Chiroptera use echolocation
(dinosaurs, for odd reasons, have never been able to
achieve similar mechanisms, also found among
cetaceans). In fact, brain analyses demonstrate that
Megachiroptera have quite large olfactory bulbs, and
all other bats have larger auditory nuclei.
Among other taxa, not mentioned in this new paper, one
can see that hyaenid brains have a mixture of enhanced
auditory components, heightened visual and olfactory
acuities, but lack, of course, echolocating systems
unlike herbivores such as giraffe and elephant.
Of course, what is now needed is a thorough monograph
on pre-K/T braincases.

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