, Volume 94, Issue 12, pp 1003–1009 | Cite as

High bat (Chiroptera) diversity in the Early Eocene of India

  • Thierry SmithEmail author
  • Rajendra S. Rana
  • Pieter Missiaen
  • Kenneth D. Rose
  • Ashok Sahni
  • Hukam Singh
  • Lachham Singh
Short Communication


The geographic origin of bats is still unknown, and fossils of earliest bats are rare and poorly diversified, with, maybe, the exception of Europe. The earliest bats are recorded from the Early Eocene of North America, Europe, North Africa and Australia where they seem to appear suddenly and simultaneously. Until now, the oldest record in Asia was from the Middle Eocene. In this paper, we report the discovery of the oldest bat fauna of Asia dating from the Early Eocene of the Cambay Formation at Vastan Lignite Mine in Western India. The fossil taxa are described on the basis of well-preserved fragments of dentaries and lower teeth. The fauna is highly diversified and is represented by seven species belonging to seven genera and at least four families. Two genera and five species are new. Three species exhibit very primitive dental characters, whereas four others indicate more advanced states. Unexpectedly, this fauna presents strong affinities with the European faunas from the French Paris Basin and the German Messel locality. This could result from the limited fossil record of bats in Asia, but could also suggest new palaeobiogeographic scenarios involving the relative position of India during the Early Eocene.


Chiroptera Mammalia Early Eocene Vastan India 



We thank our colleagues who participated in the Vastan paleontological expeditions of 2004 and 2006, including K. Kumar, P. K. Saraswati, S. Tripathi, N. Sahni, A. Folie, G. McKusick, and M. Chaudhary; Mr. Amarnath (manager) and the mining staff of Gujarat Industrial Power Corporation for help at Vastan Mine; G. Gunnell, R. Smith, P. Tassy, C. Sagne, S. Zack, J. Habersetzer, N. Micklich, and N. Simmons for giving access to comparative material, providing casts and pictures, molding and casting and other assistance, or discussion about fossil bats; B. Sigé and G. Gunnell for improving the manuscript; J. Cillis (RBINS) for the SEM photographs. Fieldwork has been sponsored by National Geographic Grants 6868-00 and 7938-05 to Rose and Sahni. This paper is a contribution to project MO/36/011 financially supported by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thierry Smith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rajendra S. Rana
    • 2
  • Pieter Missiaen
    • 3
  • Kenneth D. Rose
    • 4
  • Ashok Sahni
    • 5
  • Hukam Singh
    • 6
  • Lachham Singh
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PalaeontologyRoyal Belgian Institute of Natural SciencesBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Department of GeologyH.N.B. Garhwal UniversitySrinagarIndia
  3. 3.Aspirant FWO Vlaanderen, Research Unit of PalaeontologyUniversity of GhentGhentBelgium
  4. 4.Center for Functional Anatomy and EvolutionJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Centre of Advanced Study in GeologyPanjab UniversityChandigarhIndia
  6. 6.Birbal Sahni Institute of PalaeobotanyLucknowIndia

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