Oldest placental mammal from sub-Saharan Africa: Eocene microbat from Tanzania - evidence for early evolution of sophisticated echolocation

Gregg F. Gunnell
Bonnie Fine Jacobs
Patrick S. Herendeen


A partial skeleton of a new fossil microbat, Tanzanycteris mannardi, is the oldestplacental mammal found in sub-Saharan Africa. It came from early Lutetian (46 Ma)lake sediments in north-central Tanzania. T. mannardi has enlarged cochleae indicat-ing it was capable of a highly derived form of echolocation. Modern bats sharing simi-lar morphology are capable of precise navigation in dense forest undergrowth. Thephylogenetic relationships of T. mannardi are unclear. It shares character states withEocene Hassianycterididae, with extant Microchiroptera, and with Rhinolophoideawithin Microchiroptera. T. mannardi is important in documenting early evolution ofsophisticated bat echolocating abilities and demonstrating that Tanzanian crater lakesoffer an opportunity for future discoveries of Eocene mammals from the African interio