By William Wimsatt (Eds.)
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B A T ORIGINS AND EVOLUTION 51 tens this claw is smaller than the claw on the thumb, but probably had a sharper point and a greater leverage advantage in flexing by the flexor longus digitorum. In Pteropus the ungual phalange of digit II (the index claw bone) is small, irregular, variable and in the several specimens that I have measured is about one-third as long as the thumb claw. In Icaronycteris the index claw bone is more than half the length of the thumb claw bone. Terminal phalanges on digits III, IV, and V are so small in Icaronyc teris index that they are difficult to study.
If bats gained wings early enough, in the Mesozoic, they may have been in territorial and dietary rivalry with the flying reptiles which, as a group, had a known temporal range through most of the Jurassic Period and through the Cretaceous Period, a total duration of more than one hundred million years. In fact if bats were a sufficiently ancient mammalian novelty they may have had interlocking and reciprocal ecologic connections not only with birds and small pterosaurs but also with moths and other insects.
XII. Neck Bones The configurations of the cervical vertebrae of bats (and other animals) control and limit the movements of the head and neck, and this kind of functional osteology is clearly shown in the correlations of verte bral structures with the roosting habits of megabats and microbats. Both groups hang by their supinated hind limbs, with their legs straight above their suspended bodies. Megabats habitually keep their heads in an upside down position. They eat in this attitude, observe their world from it and launch themselves from it (whether they are free-hanging from branches of trees or have their backs to a vertical surface of a tree or other shelter) by releasing the grasp of their feet and falling or pushing or flapping into the flight position wherein the head is topside up.