When Bats Took Flight

  • Published: 12 September 2019
  • Bats pretty much appear in the fossil record as recognizable, full-on, flying bats. And they show up on all of the continents, except Antarctica, around the same time. So where did bats come from? And which of the many weird features that bats have, showed up first?

    Thanks to Ceri Thomas for the early bat illustrations! Check out more of Ceri's paleoart at alphynix.tumblr.com

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: office-2016.info/user/pbsdigitalstudios

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    References: docs.google.com/document/d/1VPccWSNkODzBifBt4R-RI8nApVRKe5pSfG8qeouiZqE/edit?usp=sharing
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 1 304

  • rex mundi
    rex mundi  3 days back

    Bats may have had a very primitive form of echolocation before they developed flight. Something somewhat useful to nocturnal hunting but very basic. I'd like to know more about the fossil that seems to show a flying bat without echo gear. Is that certain? Perhaps it is just very tiny or fragile and didn't survive the fossilisation process?

    • Jason Santos
      Jason Santos  5 days back

      I hope he finds fossil the giant bats I can't believe he still exist will never know is Ansari about bats

      • Lumberjack king the great

        Seals and bats are related to bears

        • Ramna Viaz
          Ramna Viaz  1 weeks back

          So batman is actually whaleman?

          • differous01
            differous01  1 weeks back

            Lacewings had been around since the Jurassic, and the nocturnal Green Lacewing, with its echolocation evasion system, evolved in the early Eocene (c50millon yrs ago). Something must have been hunting them. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308952785_Cenozoic_climates_and_the_evolution_of_green_lacewings_Neuroptera_Chrysopidae

            • Alpha Night Fury
              Alpha Night Fury  1 weeks back

              Can y'all agree on how terrefying bats' skeletons are.

              • Zimrian Zimrian
                Zimrian Zimrian  1 weeks back


                • 1joshjosh1
                  1joshjosh1  1 weeks back

                  "I like bats"
                  Vicki Vale

                  • Rusty Nails
                    Rusty Nails  1 weeks back

                    Why does Batman not have "echo location"???

                    • joel chan
                      joel chan  1 weeks back

                      But some bats don't echolocate

                      • Lexo Cee
                        Lexo Cee  1 weeks back

                        Scrotifera, lol

                        • Shamir George
                          Shamir George  2 weeks back

                          The answer is simple. Bats obviously developed echo-location and flight simultaneously. Aha! I be you didn't think of that! They developed it at the same time. Bats, which were previously gopher like criters, first started jumping to catch insects. They could gradually jump further and further, and hear the insects close by. And gradually the gopher like criters that could hear and glide the furthust only survived. This evenentually became powered flight AND sonar AT THE SAME TIME! I'm a genius!

                          • ThaC00l Kid
                            ThaC00l Kid  2 weeks back

                            Fingerboy from sam 'o nella academy Xd

                            • Koda Buck
                              Koda Buck  2 weeks back

                              Wait what if bat ancestors weren't nocturnal and hunted insects in the day too than they could see the insects whil gliding than as there wings developed and they got better at flying they slowly terned nocturnal to protect themselves from predators like birds? I'm not sure how plosible it is or if it makes sense, but an idea

                              • William Overton
                                William Overton  2 weeks back

                                I think they lived underground and developed flight to travel between burrows.

                                • JSTV Fish Cutting
                                  JSTV Fish Cutting  2 weeks back

                                  I think you want want to explain regarding an ancient Bats body construction and brief about giant platypuses. thanks for sharing.🐟🐟🐠🐠🦈🐬🔔🔔🔔

                                  • zomby GI
                                    zomby GI  2 weeks back

                                    Bats exist because there must always be a batman!

                                    • HOTLILPAPI
                                      HOTLILPAPI  2 weeks back

                                      thank GOD bats cant fly anymore

                                      • Mariah
                                        Mariah  2 weeks back

                                        I've said for years flying foxes faces and my dog's face ate a dead match. It's freaky. But it does only make me love the fuzzy fliers more.

                                        • Bob Langford
                                          Bob Langford  3 weeks back

                                          Nice video, but you forgot to explain how a bat evolved into a Batman!?

                                          • Arlo Stocker
                                            Arlo Stocker  3 weeks back

                                            why cant gliders have had specialised sense

                                            • Tentacular
                                              Tentacular  3 weeks back

                                              Maybe the first bats weren't nocturnal, so didn't need echolocation to see prey in daylight? I'm fairly sure that no birds have echolocation...

                                              • VEEJAYBAGO RAGEGAMER
                                                VEEJAYBAGO RAGEGAMER  4 weeks back

                                                What if fruit bat related to us and
                                                Bat where relative of horse

                                                • BroliYTwins
                                                  BroliYTwins  4 weeks back

                                                  Well in French bats are called chauve souris that can be translated as bald mouse, so for me it always appeared that Bats evolved from a Tree rodent that looked like a Mouse or a Rat. Tho it would have been bonkers to have the bats related to us.

                                                  • Joe O Sullivan
                                                    Joe O Sullivan  1 months back

                                                    I thought this was going to be a video about baseball players with sweaty hands. Kind of disappointed...

                                                    • KERO F
                                                      KERO F  1 months back

                                                      still waiting for your videos on pornhub

                                                      • Allan Molina
                                                        Allan Molina  1 months back

                                                        I am Batman

                                                        • ksiit117
                                                          ksiit117  1 months back

                                                          Doesn’t seem like the best science education to ask us which method we support when we have had a 10 minute introduction to the topic rather than from reading the scientific literature regarding it. I mean science doesn’t care about our opinion and just because the first explanation seemed to make the most sense to me doesn’t mean it happened that way. Especially relating to evolution where we keep figuring out that things are weird and surprising.

                                                          • Sidhan Singh
                                                            Sidhan Singh  1 months back

                                                            Why don't we ask batman. ..may be he knows more about bats than us

                                                            • Mickle Pickle078
                                                              Mickle Pickle078  1 months back

                                                              It does make sense that bats come from the group laurasiatheria. If u think about it and look at the bone structure of the bat and whale, they kinda look similar

                                                              • Light Shocker
                                                                Light Shocker  1 months back

                                                                what if the whales ancestor was able to fly
                                                                and also dolphins are able to echolocation and both dolphins and whales are closely related then that explains why they are closely related.

                                                                • edward
                                                                  edward  1 months back

                                                                  Love the tattoo.

                                                                  • Moe
                                                                    Moe  1 months back

                                                                    Bats begins

                                                                    • TYTO
                                                                      TYTO  1 months back

                                                                      I just want to say that the fossil specimen at 3:48 is genuinely amazing... I cant get over how well preserved it is. 😮

                                                                      • Metaphysics
                                                                        Metaphysics  2 months back

                                                                        Batman nanananananananananna

                                                                        • legendary petz
                                                                          legendary petz  2 months back

                                                                          In DOMINICAN REP U CAN FIND ALL OF THE BATS

                                                                          • Jacob Staten
                                                                            Jacob Staten  2 months back

                                                                            New topic idea; is it possible for two separate species to reach enough genetic similarities to be able. To reproduce and form a new species (not mules)?
                                                                            I want bat men.

                                                                            • xxWingedGachaxx
                                                                              xxWingedGachaxx  2 months back

                                                                              What's up with the names? They be like tongue twisters

                                                                              • Kyle Adrien
                                                                                Kyle Adrien  2 months back

                                                                                Prehistoric animals are incredible to think about. Imagine if some of these were still around

                                                                                • Neek'lahs
                                                                                  Neek'lahs  2 months back

                                                                                  Maybe they develop both skills and then over time some species lose echolocation depending on their lifestyle.

                                                                                  • Michael Maddox
                                                                                    Michael Maddox  2 months back

                                                                                    Flight had to be first as a way to escape predators. Later they became nocturnal. Why? Because they are smaller than most birds of prey and probably found it hard to compete so... they became nocturnal and developed echo location to become more efficient at hunting at night. This is my theory despite the word usage that express facts. Lol

                                                                                    • Piarou
                                                                                      Piarou  2 months back

                                                                                      Wow. Now I have watched all episodes up to this one, and this is the very first time a still-living animal was mentioned that I didn't know of. Colugo?? WTF. How have you escaped my attention, little flying fake-lemur?

                                                                                      Thanks, PBS. I have learned so much, as usual. :D <3

                                                                                      • Falckie Falcon
                                                                                        Falckie Falcon  2 months back

                                                                                        Ever since I read darkwing from the silverwing series I've always been interested in how bats evolved

                                                                                        • Anna Noble
                                                                                          Anna Noble  2 months back

                                                                                          I have heard rumors (so take this with a grain of salt) of a late Cretaceous tooth from Argentina that resembles that of a bat's, so perhaps the molecular clock studies are not far off!

                                                                                          • D2attemp
                                                                                            D2attemp  2 months back

                                                                                            Anyone read Kenneth Oppel’s book Darkwing

                                                                                            • Jamie Bond
                                                                                              Jamie Bond  2 months back

                                                                                              Why do fossils get Latin names??

                                                                                              • TiagoTiago
                                                                                                TiagoTiago  2 months back

                                                                                                Wasn't there something about fruitbats not being related to the other bats, and just looking similar because of convergent evolution?

                                                                                                • TiagoTiago
                                                                                                  TiagoTiago  2 months back

                                                                                                  How can they know the ancient bats were nocturnal?