Gregg F. Gunnell, Percy M. Butler, Marjorie Greenwood, Nancy B. Simmons
American Museum Novitates 2015 (3846), 1-36, (16 December 2015) https://doi.org/10.1206/3846.1
Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania is most famous for producing some of the first discoveries of fossil hominins in East Africa. Zinjanthropus (= Paranthropus) boisei was initially discovered in 1959 from Olduvai Bed I. During screen-washing operations to search for more hominin material at Olduvai, an associated faunal assemblage was accumulated including 40 numbered specimens of fossil bats. Except for seven dental specimens, this collection consists entirely of postcrania, almost exclusively complete or fragmentary humeri representing both proximal and distal ends. Although briefly discussed in preliminary reports, these specimens have remained undescribed for over 50 years and have never been comprehensively compared to extant species. Our analyses indicate that the Olduvai bat fossils represent five families and nine genera, and include four new species: Myzopoda africana, n. sp., Cardioderma leakeyi, n. sp., Scotoecus olduvensis, n. sp., and Nycticeinops serengetiensis, n. sp. The Olduvai bat fossils come from the FLK North 1 and FLK NN1 levels, both of early Pleistocene age, and ranging between 1.80 and 1.85 Ma based on 40Ar/39Ar dating techniques, respectively. Compared to the meager Pleistocene bat record from elsewhere on mainland Africa, the Olduvai bat assemblage, although richer, is similar in the predominance of vespertilionids. The East African Olduvai bat fauna differs from Pleistocene faunas from South Africa in including both Myzopoda and Cardioderma but lacking both hipposiderids and rhinolophids. These taxonomic differences are likely the result of differential sampling due to variation in roosting site preferences (cave-dwelling vs. non-cave-dwelling taxa) and foraging habitats (open vs. forested) in East and South Africa.