Using analyses of digital images of the thoracic skeletons of 16 species of bats (7 families) known to produce high intensity echolocation calls, we made qualitative and quantitative comparisons of the associations of thoracic skeletal features to echolocation behaviour and classification by family. The bats we examined showed significant differences in rib, sternal, manubrial and xiphoid morphology. Pteropodids (former Megachiroptera, non echolocating or, in the case of Rousettus aegyptiacus echolocating using orally-generated signals), were distinctly different from species of former Microchiroptera. Among former Microchiroptera, low duty cycle echolocators (Emballonuridae, most Mormoopidae, Vespertilionidae, and Molossidae) were generally more similar to one another than to high duty cycle echolocators (Hipposideridae and Rhinolophidae). Pteronotus parnellii, a high duty cycle echolocator, was more similar in thoracic morphology to other mormoopids than to other high duty cycle echolocators (hipposiderids and rhinolophids). Thoracic skeletal morphology suggests that laryngeal echolocation is associated with some modifications of the thoracic skeleton apparently beyond those related to flight.
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