Tachypteron franzeni n. gen., n. sp., earliest emballonurid bat from the Middle Eocene of Messel (Mammalia, Chiroptera)
A new genus and species of emballonurid microchiropteran,Tachypteron franzeni, is described from the early Middle Eocene (MP 11) of Grube Messel, near Darmstadt, Germany. The holotype is extraordinarily well-preserved. It is the first unequivocal representative of an extant clade among Messel bats and the oldest unequivocal record of Emballonuridae. The flight apparatus ofT. franzeni is highly specialized for a rapid and constant flight style. The proportions of the strikingly narrow wing, the outline of the flight membranes and external ear, the morphology of the postcranial skeleton, and the relative cochlea size ofT. franzeni and extantTaphozous species are almost identical, while the dentition ofT. franzeni is distinguished by more plesiomorphic features.Tachypteron and the fairly diverse Paleogene record of emballonurids from France, consisting mainly of isolated teeth, document the earliest radiation known from an extant bat family and suggest a rather intense pre-Middle Eocene diversification of emballonurids.