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No. 46: Jul-Aug 1986

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Are fruit bats primates?

The profound differences between the fruit bat (megabats) and echo-locating, insect-eating bats (microbats) were mentioned above. The primate-like eye-brain system of the fruit bats suggests two possibilities:

1. Primitive bats first developed flight and then the fruit bats developed their primate-like eye-brain systems through "convergent evolution"; or

2. The fruit bats inherited their eye-brain system from closely re lated primates and then developed flight through "convergent evolu tion."

R.D. Martin, a physical anthropologist and author of this article, has reviewed the morphological characteristics of the fruit bats and primates. On this basis, he doubts that the fruit bats are pri-mates. Furthermore, molecular studies are also negative. Therefore, possibility #1 above is the more likely one.

(Martin, R.D.; "Are Fruit Bats Primates?" Nature, 320:482, 1986.)

Comment. In either case, #1 or #2, we must acknowledge convergent evolution and the likelihood that some subroutine in the genetic code repeats itself in divergent species. Speculative as always, we must ask if the genetic instructions for human or even superhuman intelligence do not reside dormant-for-now in other species.

Reference. For more on megabat similarities to primates, go to BMC4 in the catalog volume: Biological Anomalies: mammals II. Ordering information here.

Epaulleted fruit bat An epaulleted fruit bat. (Adapted from the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology)

From Science Frontiers #46, JUL-AUG 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987