Exquisite Messel Fossil Bat Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon

Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon

Class Mammalia, Order Chiroptera, Suborder Microchiroptera, Family Archaeonycterididae

Geological Time: Eocene

Size: bat fossil is 44 by 52 mm

Fossil Site: Messel Pit, Darmstadt, Germany

Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon Fossil This is a superb fossil of a small species of bat from the oil shale Messel Pit deposits of Darmstadt, Germany, known as Palaeochiropteryx tupaiodon. These ~50 million year old deposits are famous for their exquisitely well preserved organisms, including some with the remains of their last meal preserved within. Soft tissue preservation is prevalent at the fossil site, just as readily seen here in preservation of some delicate wing tissue.

The genus Palaeochiropteryx had relatively broad, short wings, indicative of adaptation for slow, highly maneuverable flight near the forest floor. While some features such as the skull and skeleton are primitive, the shape of the wings resembles that of the modern-day Hipposiderids that have similar flight behavior. Many of the limb bones are in articulation, and notice the intact foot. The skull is remarkably well preserved, with all its teeth intact. This bat probably was overcome by toxic gases from the lake while in low-level pursuit of flying insects. Due to this fragility of the oil shale, this specimen, like all from the locality, has been embedded in resin to allow preparation. The fossil is then flipped over and the matrix removed on the opposite side. A final coating of resin serves to preserve the specimen as seen here. The genus is extinct.

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