link: American Museum of Natural History Public Site link: American Museum Congo Expedition Index Page

Batscans: Taphozous mauritianus

Despite their name, Mauritian Tomb Bats are actually known from most of Africa South of the Sahara Desert. These bats prefer open savannah and forest edge habitats in relatively moist areas. Females usually live in groups of 3 to 30 individuals, and males are solitary except for breeding season. Mauritian Tomb Bats are thought to be moth specialists although they also eat butterflies and termites. Prey is captured and consumed on the wing. Despite their name, these bats do not roost in tombs, but instead spend the day under the outer bark of trees or under overhanging vegetation.

The specimen of Taphozous mauritianus shown here was collected in November of 1911 by the AMNH Lang-Chapin Expedition in Avakubi, Congo. It is currently under study by Dr. Nancy Simmons of the AMNH, who is including Taphozous mauritianus in her studies of evolutionary relationships of bats. The CT scans of this specimen will be used to study details of skeletal structure and to collect data for phylogenetic analysis. Unlike traditional museum preparations, CT scans allow scientists to see inside the skull without damaging it, and to visualize the tiny, three-dimensional bones of the wrists and ankles (which in bats are as small as grains of sand). Studies of this and other CT scans of bat will allow Dr. Simmons and her colleagues to view many structures for the first time, and to use information on variation among species to help resolve their evolutionary relationships.

See more CT scans like this one.

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These scans were produced by the Digital Morphology Division at the University of Texas at Austin.