Europe's largest bat inhabited northeastern Spain more than 10,000 years ago

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Washington, October 30 (ANI): A team of scientists has confirmed that the largest bat in Europe, Nyctalus lasiopterus, had a greater geographical presence in northeastern Spain more than 10,000 years ago than it does today, having declined due to the reduction in vegetation cover.

The evidence came in the form of fossils of the Greater Noctule found in the excavation site at Abric Romani in Barcelona.

Although this research study is the second to demonstrate the bat's presence in the Iberian Peninsula, it offers the first description in the fossil record of the teeth of Nyctalus lasiopterus from a fragment of the left jaw.

"It is an important finding because this species is not common in the fossil record. In fact, the discovery of Nyctalus lasiopterus at the Abric Romani site (Capellades, Barcelona) is one of the few cases of fossils existing on the species in the European Pleistocene," said Juan Manuel Lopez-Garcia, principal author of the work and researcher at the Institute of Social Evolution and Human Palaeoecology at the Rovira i Virgili University (URV).

The analysis of the fossilized remains found at the site during the campaigns from 2004 to 2006 reveals that the largest bat in Europe inhabited north-eastern Spain more than 10,000 years ago.

"Nyctalus lasiopterus is a fairly unknown species nowadays, with an indistinct geographical distribution in the peninsula, which does not include the region of Catalonia," said Lopez-Garcia.

"The presence of Nyctalus lasiopterus in the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula strengthens the evidence that this species had a wider geographical range during the Pleistocene than today," said the palaeontologist.

During the mild periods, when the development of vegetation gave these animals refuge, the Noctule had a wider territory.

Until now, the large bat had been located in mountainous regions such as the Eastern Pyrenees, the Cantabrian Mountains, the central mountain range or open Mediterranean landscapes where oaks, holm oaks and pines dominate.

However, the study confirms a change from the distribution of the species during the Late Pleistocene and the Holocene (less than 10,000 years ago) to now.

"The reduction in vegetation cover could be the reason for the current low densities of the species and its biased geographical distribution", concluded Lopez-Garcia. (ANI)

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