Evolution’s Chimera – Bats and the Marvel of Evolutionary Adaptation

by David Jacobs

In Greek mythology, the chimera was a hybrid monster. Similarly, bats look like they have the body of a mouse, the face of a gargoyle or fox, and the wings of a pterosaur, giving rise to this book’s title. Evolution’s Chimera describes the amazing physical and behavioural adaptations of bats, using them to illustrate the processes of natural evolution.

Bats comprise a quarter of all mammals in the world and are the only mammals that can fly. They occupy every landmass and almost every habitat on Earth. They make up the second-most diverse group of mammals on the planet, numbering more than 1 270 species. And they are among the oldest mammals. They are therefore ideal for the study of how evolution generates biological diversity.

David Jacobs, an expert on bats currently researching animal evolution, gives an accessible account of evolution using bats as a case study, from adaptation, competition and evolutionary arms races to the role of sensory systems in the adaptation of species. He explores why bats hang upside down, why they are so small and the diversity of their diets, from insects to blood. Based on research done over the last 10 years this book provides a review of the latest research into evolution and biology, indicates what research still needs to be done and introduces new hypotheses for testing.

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