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Madagascar's tiny 'sucker-foots' give old bat new meaning

Published on Feb 5, 2014 6:34 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - You can call them the contrarians of the bat world.

While nearly all bats roost upside down from tree limbs or cave ceilings, two species of tiny "sucker-footed" bats currently found only in Madagascar roost head-up, typically in the furled leaves of a tree known as the traveler's palm.

But these oddballs of the bat world once were much more common than they are today. Scientists reported on Tuesday the discovery in a desert in Egypt of the fossilized remains of two earlier extinct species of these bats - one that lived 37 million years ago and the other 30 million years ago.

The discovery indicates that "sucker-footed" bats swooped out of trees on the African continent for millions of years before being consigned to Madagascar, an island off Africa's coast known for its unique collection of animals, they said.

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