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, 98 (11), 6241-6

Integrated Fossil and Molecular Data Reconstruct Bat Echolocation


Integrated Fossil and Molecular Data Reconstruct Bat Echolocation

M S Springer et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.


Molecular and morphological data have important roles in illuminating evolutionary history. DNA data often yield well resolved phylogenies for living taxa, but are generally unattainable for fossils. A distinct advantage of morphology is that some types of morphological data may be collected for extinct and extant taxa. Fossils provide a unique window on evolutionary history and may preserve combinations of primitive and derived characters that are not found in extant taxa. Given their unique character complexes, fossils are critical in documenting sequences of character transformation over geologic time and may elucidate otherwise ambiguous patterns of evolution that are not revealed by molecular data alone. Here, we employ a methodological approach that allows for the integration of molecular and paleontological data in deciphering one of the most innovative features in the evolutionary history of mammals-laryngeal echolocation in bats. Molecular data alone, including an expanded data set that includes new sequences for the A2AB gene, suggest that microbats are paraphyletic but do not resolve whether laryngeal echolocation evolved independently in different microbat lineages or evolved in the common ancestor of bats and was subsequently lost in megabats. When scaffolds from molecular phylogenies are incorporated into parsimony analyses of morphological characters, including morphological characters for the Eocene taxa Icaronycteris, Archaeonycteris, Hassianycteris, and Palaeochiropteryx, the resulting trees suggest that laryngeal echolocation evolved in the common ancestor of fossil and extant bats and was subsequently lost in megabats. Molecular dating suggests that crown-group bats last shared a common ancestor 52 to 54 million years ago.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Maximum likelihood phylogram (HKY85 model with a Γ distribution of rates) based on the 9427-bp data set (−ln likelihood = 48718.269). Scale bar corresponds to 5% sequence divergence. ML bootstrap support values are shown adjacent to or above branches. Support values with other methods of analysis are given in Table 1.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Strict consensus of three equally most parsimonious trees (309 steps) for the 81 character data set with unweighted parsimony and the molecular scaffold. Bootstrap percentages are shown in bold for clades supported above 50%. The hypothesis that laryngeal echolocation evolved in the common ancestor of bats, with subsequent loss in megabats, requires one evolutionary gain (1G) and one evolutionary loss (1L). The competing hypothesis, that laryngeal echolocation evolved independently in different microbats, requires four evolutionary gains on the branches labeled 2G. Other analyses also produced trees on which the Eocene fossils constitute a paraphyletic assemblage, either as shown in Fig. 3 or entirely at the base of Chiroptera. Taxa shown with asterisks were constrained by the following molecular scaffold: (Outgroups, (Pteropodidae, (Hipposiderinae, Megadermatidae)), (Molossinae, Myotinae, Emballonuridae, Phyllostomidae)). Other taxa, including the Eocene fossils, were not constrained. Color designations for taxa are as follows: outgroups, black; early Eocene fossils, green; emballonuroids, red; yangochiropterans, blue; yinochiropterans, purple; megabats, orange.

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