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2006 | 08 | 1 |
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A moveable face: deconstructing the Microchiroptera and a new classification of extant bats

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Recent comparative-method and molecular studies have called into question both the classic subordinal division of bats into Megachiroptera versus Microchiroptera and the infraordinal separation of microchiropterans as Yinochiroptera and Yangochiroptera: megabats are not necessarily large, nor are microbats uniformly small; some yinochiropterans may be specially related to megachiropterans whilst others are more nearly affiliated with yangochiropterans; and quite apart from the conflict with DNA comparisons, the microbat dichotomy (based on moveable versus fused premaxillae) is neither completely cladistic nor parsimonious. We conclude that current appellations — including the neologism Yinpterochiroptera — no longer embody the authors' intended groups or have been so frequently redefined as to be positively misleading. We therefore adopt the new subordinal names Vespertilioniformes (for the group including Emballonuridae, Nycteridae, and the ‘yangochiropterans’) and Pteropodiformes (for the taxon comprised of Craseonycteridae, Hipposideridae, Megadermatidae, Rhinolophidae, Rhinopomatidae, and Pteropodidae). These epithets are ultimately based on the oldest valid generic names for included taxa (respectively Vespertilio Linnaeus, 1758 and Pteropus Brisson, 1762), and are thus impervious to pre-emption or misinterpretation.
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