The evolution of flight and echolocation in pre-bats: an evaluation of the energetics of reach hunting

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Theories of the evolution of echolocation and flight in bats can be divided into models in which echolocation evolved first, flight evolved first, or where both evolved in tandem. The echolocation first hypothesis, as well as some of the flight first theories, commonly include a hypothetical phase where the pre-bat hunted by intercepting insects as they flew past a perch. I have called this behavior 'reach hunting'. In the current paper I have tried to reconstruct the likely energy gains that an animal could achieve when using this foraging strategy. The most favorable reconstruction suggests that it would take more than a day of continuous foraging to meet a reach hunters daily energy requirement, which probably explains why no extant animals hunt in this manner. This modelling suggests that the evolution of bats is unlikely to have included a period of reach hunting behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalActa Chiropterologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Chiroptera
  • evolution
  • flight
  • echolocation
  • aerial insects
  • reach hunting

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