Distinctive cranial and cervical innervation of wing muscles: new evidence for bat monophyly

Science  22 Feb 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4996, pp. 934-936
DOI: 10.1126/science.2000493


The traditional view that Old World fruit bats (Megachiroptera) and insect bats (Microchiroptera) are closely related has been challenged by claims that Megachiroptera are the sister group to flying lemurs (Dermoptera) or Primates. We found that the specialized muscles of the rostral part of the wing in Microchiroptera and Megachiroptera receive double innervation by both the facial nerve and cervical spinal nerves, suggesting that bats are monophyletic. Innervation by the facial nerve also occurs in Dermoptera and suggests that bats and Dermoptera share a common ancestor that had wings.