Miniopterus, known as the bent-winged or long winged bats, is the sole genus of the family Miniopteridae. They are small flying insectivorous mammals, micro-bats of the order Chiroptera, with wings over twice the length of the body. The genus had been placed in its own subfamily among the vespertilionid bats, as Miniopterinae, but is now classified as its own family.

Miniopterus schreibersii dasythrix.jpg
Common bent-wing bat (Miniopterus schreibersi)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Chiroptera
Superfamily: Vespertilionoidea
Family: Miniopteridae
Dobson, 1875
Genus: Miniopterus
Bonaparte, 1837

See text


The genus was erected in 1837 by Charles L. Bonaparte. In the first systematic revision of the genus, published in a monograph of Miniopterus in 1858 by Robert F. Tomes, the author reallocated specimens and described new taxa.[1] A new systematic arrangement was produced in an extensive study of poorly known chiropterans of the Indo-Austral region by James E. Hill in 1985, the greater resolution of the genus being determined by the British Museum of Natural History's acquisition of new series of specimens collected in Fiji, the New Hebrides and New Caledonia and the extensive collection made in New Guinea by ecologist Ben Gaskell on "Operation Drake".[2]

Recognised as a very widely dispersed group with distinct morphology, biology and genetic characters, the number of species and systematic arrangements varied between still contradictory treatments. The genus was nested within Vespertilionidae as Miniopterinae, one of five subfamilies, with doubts remaining on the relationships to sister groups. The position of the minopterines was determined as showing a phylogenetic relationship to either the vespertilionids or the molossids, these assumptions were compared and analysed in study using large data sets derived from multiple genetic indicators and statistical analysis to determine the basal relationships within the order Chiroptera. The authors of this 2007 study found support for elevation to the rank of family—as Miniopteridae—and that the vespertilionids and Miniopterus species formed a clade that had diverged from the molossids (free-tailed bats) at a period around 54–43 million years ago and from other species 49–38 mya.[3]


Bent-winged bats are typically small (total length c. 10 cm, wingspans 30–35 cm, mass less than 20 g), with broad, short muzzles. The cranium is bulbous and taller than the snout, a feature shared with woolly bats and mouse-eared bats. This combination of features was likely present in the common ancestor of the vesper bats. They have two tiny, vestigial premolars between the upper canines and first large premolar. Unlike other bats, they lack a tendon-locking mechanism in their toes.

The common name bent-winged bat refers to their most obvious feature, the group's ability to fold back an exceptionally long third finger when the wings are folded. This finger gives the bats long, narrow wings that allows them to move at high speed in open environments and in some species to migrate over a distance of hundreds of kilometres.[4][3] The proportional length of the wing is around two and a half times that of the body and head.[5]

Research applicationsEdit

In 2017, evidence of deltaretroviruses was found in the genome of the Miniopteridae.[6] Deltaretroviruses only affect mammals, and this was the first evidence that they affected bat species.[6] The presence of the deltaretrovirus in multiple Miniopterid species suggests that the virus was present in the family before speciation 20 million years ago.[6] The evolutionary history of deltaretroviruses is important because they cause leukemia in humans.


Family Miniopteridae


Bent-winged bats occur in southern Europe, across Africa and Madagascar, throughout Asia, and in Australia, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. One species, the common bent-wing bat, inhabits the whole of this range.[4] The group rapidly colonized much of this area in the last 15,000 years.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Tomes, R.F. (1858). "A monograph of the genus Miniopteris". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 1858: 115–128 [125].
  2. ^ Hill, J.E. (25 August 1983). "Bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) from Indo-Australia". Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). 45: 103–208.
  3. ^ a b Teeling, E.C.; Springer, M.S.; Jacobs, D.S.; O'Brien, S.J.; Murphy, W.J.; Miller-Butterworth, X.M. (1 July 2007). "A Family Matter: Conclusive Resolution of the Taxonomic Position of the Long-Fingered Bats, Miniopterus". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 24 (7): 1553–1561. doi:10.1093/molbev/msm076. ISSN 0737-4038. PMID 17449895.
  4. ^ a b Appleton, B.R.; McKenzie, J.A.; Christidis, L. (2004). "Bent-winged bats: wide ranges, very weird wings (vesper bats part III)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 31 (2): 431–439. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2003.08.017. PMID 15062785. Retrieved 2015-05-07.
  5. ^ Hall, L.S.; Woodside, D.P. (1989). "42. Vespertilionidae". Fauna of Australia. Canberra: Australian Govt. Pub. Service. ISBN 9780644060561.
  6. ^ a b c Farkašová, H., Hron, T., Pačes, J., Hulva, P., Benda, P., Gifford, R. J., & Elleder, D. (2017). Discovery of an endogenous Deltaretrovirus in the genome of long-fingered bats (Chiroptera: Miniopteridae). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201621224.
  7. ^ Monadjem, A.; Goodman, S.M.; Stanley, W.T.; Appleton, B. (2013). "A cryptic new species of Miniopterus from southeastern Africa based on molecular and morphological characters". Zootaxa. 3746 (1): 123–142. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3746.1.5. hdl:2263/58374. PMID 25113471.
  8. ^ Goodman, Steven M.; Bradman, Helen M.; Maminirina, Claudette P.; Ryan, Kate E.; Christidis, Les L.; Appleton, Belinda (1 May 2008). "A new species of Miniopterus (Chiroptera: Miniopteridae) from lowland southeastern Madagascar". Mammalian Biology. 73 (3): 199–213. doi:10.1016/j.mambio.2007.12.003. ISSN 1616-5047.
  9. ^ Goodman, S. M.; Ryan, K. E.; Maminirina, C. P.; Fahr, J.; Christidis, L.; Appleton, B. (October 2007). "Specific Status of Populations on Madagascar Referred to Miniopterus fraterculus (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae), with Description of a New Species". Journal of Mammalogy. 88 (5): 1216–1229. doi:10.1644/06-MAMM-A-285R1.1. ISSN 0022-2372.
  • Goodman, S. M., K. E. Ryan, C. P. Maminirina, J. Fahr, L. Christidis, and B. Appleton. 2007. Specific status of populations on Madagascar referred to Miniopterus fraterculus (Chiroptera: Vespertillionidae), with description of a new species. Journal of Mammalogy, 88:1216-1229.
  • Goodman, S.M., Maminirina, C.P., Weyeneth, N., Bradman, H.M., Christidis, L., Ruedi, M. & Appleton, B. 2009. The use of molecular and morphological characters to resolve the taxonomic identity of cryptic species: the case of Miniopterus manavi (Chiroptera: Miniopteridae). Zoologica Scripta 38: 339-363
  • Mein, P. and Ginsburg, L. 2002. Sur l'âge relatif des différents karstiques miocènes de La Grive-Saint-Alban (Isère). Cahiers scientifiques, Muséum d'Histoire naturelle, Lyon 2:7–47.
  • Miller-Butterworth, C., Murphy, W., O'Brien, S., Jacobs, D., Springer, M. and Teeling, E. 2007. A family matter: Conclusive resolution of the taxonomic position of the long-fingered bats, Miniopterus. Molecular Biology and Evolution 24(7):1553–1561.
  • Simmons, N. B. 2005. Order Chiroptera. pp. 312–529 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
  • Furman, A., Öztunç, T. & Çoraman, E. 2010b. On the phylogeny of Miniopterus schreibersii schreibersii and Miniopterus schreibersii pallidus from Asia Minor in reference to other Miniopterustaxa (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae). Acta Chiropterologica 12, 61-72.