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Flightless bats from the future

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Image of the Week #67, November 6th, 2012:


From: Giant flightless bats from the future by Darren Naish at Tetrapod Zoology.

Source: After Man, by Dougal Dixon.

Despite the fact that close to 20% of the world’s extant mammal species are species of bats, none of them have developed flightlessness. Compare that to birds, where flightlessness has evolved numerous times on numerous continents throughout history. This tantalizing factoid is the inspiration behind Dougal Dixon’s invention of numerous flightless bat species in his futuristic book After Man (Dixon 1981). The 1.5-meter tall predator, Manambulus perhorridus, is surely the most formidable of them all. For more of Dixon’s creations and a hypothesis on what is keeping bats in flight, read Tetrapod Zoology’s post, “Giant flightless bats from the future.”



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  1. 1. kevinICdesigner 4:33 pm 11/6/2012

    Is this now Speculative American? I come here for SCIENCE.

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  2. 2. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 4:44 pm 11/6/2012

    Dude, stop trolling. That’s my single favorite sci-art picture.

    Dr. Zikovic, I have owned a copy of “After Man” since I was six. I got a new one at age twelve because the previous one was literally falling apart (and the Night Stalker page had actually had the ink worn off of parts of it). Thanks for posting this photo; it brings back lots of good memories.

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  3. 3. Bora Zivkovic 4:46 pm 11/6/2012

    Requests for purity always have hidden motivations.

    Science and geekery are hard to separate. And Dixon is a great example of both, PLUS awesome art.

    And yes, I also have a copy of Dixon (actually, three different books of his).

    Link to this
  4. 4. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 5:53 pm 11/6/2012

    These days, I prefer land crocs spec-zoo wise, but I still love the Night Stalker.

    Which books, Dr. Zikovic?

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  5. 5. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 5:57 pm 11/6/2012

    I usually have one “baby” spec-zoo creature that I laish all of my creative arts on at any one time. My current favorite is a vaguely raptorlike pack-hunting croc that I put in the 50 myf Mojave region that I call a spinetail. I gave spinetails human-level intellects, impressive natural weaponry, and prey the size of a bison (I have spinetails being .5 meters SVL).

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  6. 6. Bora Zivkovic 5:57 pm 11/6/2012

    ‘After Man’, of course, but also ‘The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution’ and “Dougal Dixon’s Dinosaurs: 12 New Dinosaur Discoveries and More Feathers Than Ever”

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  7. 7. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 6:00 pm 11/6/2012

    Weird bat fact: the extinct Greater short-tailed bat (*Mystacina robusta*) was a weak and reluctant flier, and primarily a terrestrial predator. It had robust wing bones, pouches for its wing membranes on the sides of its body, and scurried rather like a shrew or rat. Probably the closest non-spec thing to a Night Stalker.

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  8. 8. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 6:43 pm 11/6/2012

    I really want a copy of “New Dinosaurs”, but I can’t find any.

    Link to this
  9. 9. BenThomas 1:49 am 11/8/2012

    Dougal Dixon! “After Man” is one of my all-time favorite sci-fi art books. I remember scouring the internet for a used copy, back in the early days of online book shopping.

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  10. 10. laymans 1:22 pm 11/13/2012

    I too have had this book from a very young age. I still have it, although it is in poor condition due to frequent reading.

    I think speculation and imagination is a good tool to assist scientific discovery. I think it readies us for the acceptance of unexpected results. How often has a scientist dismissed what they have observed simply because their understanding and expertise does not allow them to expect the unexpected. I don’t think we are saying that speculation or imagination should replace scientific method or evidence but rather allow us to be flexible enough to not discard observations because they do not fit in our model of reality.

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