On Friday I gave you this skull to identify:
As you can see, it’s smaller than the smallest carnivore or ungulate and it lacks the characteristics you would expect from a rodent – for example, although the teeth are not actually visible, there is no sign of rodenty incisors and you can see where there are canines rooted in the maxilla.
This suggests one of the small insectivores, by which I mean something that eats insects, since there is no longer a recognised taxonomic group of that name. But most of the shrews, moles, tenrecs etc. have quite long and narrow skulls, so this doesn’t look right for one of them either.
Jake picked up on the features and commented that it looks a bit like a Hedgehog skull, but is too small even for one of them. After that everyone went batty – by which I mean that David recognised it as a bat, henstridgesj correctly suggested it was in the family Vespertilionidae, and Barbara Powell went straight in with correct species – Myotis myotis (Borkhausen, 1797) or the Greater Mouse-eared Bat.
For some reason this one puts me in mind of Sean Astin in the Goonies, although I’m not sure why…
As far as bats go, these guys are quite endearing – their skulls aren’t oddly distorted as with some other bats and their faces don’t seem quite as freakish. One of the reasons that the Greater Mouse-eared Bat is a bit less ugly in the face than some of the other bats may be due to the fact that they don’t specialise in echolocating to the same extent as other microbats. Don’t get me wrong, they have great hearing and they do echolocate, but only to find their way around. They don’t capture prey in flight using echolocation, relying instead on hearing the sounds of insect prey moving around on the ground and swooping in to snatch it up.
Because they don’t have such great demands for echolocation, Greater Mouse-eared Bats don’t have such scrunced up faces and large fleshy folds on the nose and ears for amplifying and detecting their signal. They also have more fur on the face, which means that they don’t look quite as grotesque as some of the more specialist echolocating bats. Be thankful that you don’t echolocate if you value your features!
As Lynne Truss might not have said “Eats, grubs, and flies”
Excuse me… Ugly? I’m sure bats would regard you as pretty ugly if they were capable of communicating aesthetic judgements.