Fossils help us give free rein to our imagination when talking about the past. These are resources that can transform thoughts about what life, or some animal, would have been like into scientific answers. They have been studied for a long time. In addition, you can find parts of the body, such as bones and teeth, and even footprints that they left in different parts of the world. Some fossils seem to have been frozen in time for being so well preserved.
Archaeologists are always finding new fossils and discovering ancient animals that once lived on Earth. Like, for example, this jaw of a bat that was around 100,000 years ago. It was confirmed that she belonged to a species of giant vampire bat.
The jaw of the Desmodus draculae species was located in a cave in Argentina. She is helping to fill in the gaps in the history of these animals. In addition, the jaw may give some clues as to why these bats died .
After exploding onto the scene about 50 million years ago, bats are now very diverse. They are 20% of all known mammal species. A percentage that is really considerable.
Because of all this diversity, it can be thought that there are several fossil records of bats to be studied. However, the reality is the opposite. The fossil record of this species is quite poor and irregular. That’s why this discovery is very valuable. Mainly the fossil being a vampire bat.
“They are the only family of bats in the world that arouse the curiosity of the legends of Transylvania and its frightening Count Dracula. But in reality they are peaceful animals that feed on the blood of animals, and sometimes humans, for a few minutes without causing discomfort. The only bad thing is that they can transmit rabies or other illnesses if they are infected. Prehistoric representatives behaved similarly,” said paleontologist Mariano Magnussen, from the Paleontological Laboratory of the Miramar Museum of Natural Sciences in Argentina.
Today only three of approximately 1,400 species of this family of animals are vampire bats. They are located in Central and South America. They are: the common vampire bat ( Desmodus rotundus ), the furry-legged vampire bat ( Diphylla ecaudata ) and the white-winged vampire bat ( Diaemus youngi ).
They all seem to be closely related. This suggests that hematophagy only evolved once in these bats . And that all species of vampire bats, whether existing or extinct, came from a common ancestor.
So fossils of extinct species of vampire bats may help researchers unravel why the species seen today managed to survive. Because of this, the discovery made of the jaw bone has a lot of significance.
“The meanings of fossils are many. To start with, fossil remains of bats are rare in Argentina. It also confirms the presence of the species in mid-latitudes and during the Pleistocene. The other material of the species in Argentina is isolated, however, much younger. This is one of the oldest records. It is unknown in the Pliocene,” said paleontologist Santiago Brizuela, from the National University of Mar del Plata, in Argentina.
Researchers knew a few things about D. draculae , but the discovery of the mandible was actually quite special. Pleistocene sediments were recovered in a cave not far from the city of Miramar, in Buenos Aires. The location is important because, at the time, the cave was a giant sloth’s lair.
The discovery could be a big clue as to how bats lived. It can also reveal something about the region’s climate. This vampire bat made its home approximately 400 kilometers north of where the remains were located. Which suggests to researchers that the climate was different 100,000 years ago.
And the decline of this species probably had several factors that contributed to it happening.