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In Greek mythology, the chimera was a hybrid monster made up of the parts of different animals. Bats look like they have the body of a mouse, the face of a gargoyle or fox, and the wings of a pterosaur, giving rise to this book’s title. Evolution’s Chimera describes the amazing physical and behavioral adaptations of bats, using them to illustrate the processes of natural evolution. Bats comprise a quarter of all mammals in the world and are the only mammals that can fly. They occupy every landmass and almost every habitat on Earth, except for the Antarctic, and make up the second-most diverse group of mammals on the planet, numbering more than 1,270 species. They are therefore ideal for the study of how evolution generates the diversity that is the most outstanding characteristic of life.
Author David Jacobs is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town, focusing on the evolution of bats in his teaching and research. He holds the SARCHI Research Chair in Animal Evolution & Systematics funded by the Department of Science & Technology, administered by the National Research Foundation. He has written more than 60 scientific articles on bat ecology and evolution and has been on the editorial boards of several international journals, including African Bat Conservation News, Acta Chiropterologica, Journal of Mammalogy, International Journal of Zoology, Canadian Journal of Zoology, and PLoS ONE. 169 pages, trade paperback.