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Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis) Fact Sheet: Taxonomy & History

Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis)

Taxonomy and Nomenclature

  • Common name:
    • English: Flying fox, Rodrigues fruit bat, Rodriquez flying fox
    • Spanish: Zorro Volador De La Isla Rodrques.
    • Native Name: Translates as "Golden Bat"
  • Scientific name: Pteropus from Greek pteron, "a wing" and p(o)us, "a foot"; thus, "wing-foot (hand)"; rodricensis signifies the island of Rodrigues where it is native.

Evolutionary History

  • Delicate bat fossils are quite rare, especially the Megachiroptera (only 2 fossils older than Pleistocene) (Baker et al 1991)
  • Considerable debate among researchers in 1990's regarding relationships between mega and micro chiropterans
    • Descended from a common ancestor (monophyletic) (Thewissen & Babcock 1991 )
    • Evolved from two separate ancestors (Pettigrew 1995, Pettigrew et al 1989)
  • Most recent studies support bats evolving from a single common ancestor. (Simmons & Conway 1997) (Nikaido et al 2000)
  • Divergence of two suborders of bats dates to between 72-61 million years ago (Kirsch et al 1995) or slightly younger at 58 million years ago.(Nikaido et al 2000).
  • Icaronycteris recognized as early microchiropteran bat - from 50 million year old rocks in North America and Europe (Simmons et al 2008)
  • Archaeopteropus is a known early megachiropteran dating to 30 million years ago from Italy. (Oligocene)
  • The pteropid bat family arose in Australo-Pacific or south-east Asia in 23-14 million years ago (Early Miocene) (Kirsch et al 1995)
  • The pteropid family now occupies Old World tropics of Africa, Asia, and Indo-Australia. (Hill & Smith 1988)


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Chiroptera

Family: Pteropodidae ("flying foxes," Old World fruit bats) (Gray, 1821)

Genus: Pteropus (Brisson, 1762) - flying foxes (most endemic to islands)

Species: Pteropus rodricensis (Dobson, 1878) - Rodrigues fruit bat, Rodrigues flying fox

Source: Integrated Taxonomic Information System (2017)

Page Citations

ITIS (2010)
Baker et al. (1991)
Hill & Smith (1988)
Kirsch et al. (1995)
Nikaido et al. (2000)
Pettigrew (1995)
Pettigrew et al. (1989)
Simmons & Conway (1997)
Simmons et al. (2008)
Thewissen & Babcock (1991)

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