Abstract

Fish-eating in bats evolved independently in Myotis vivesi (Vespertillionidae ) and Noctilio leporinus (Noctilionidae). We compared cranial morphological characters and bite force   between these species to test the existence of evolutionary parallelism in piscivory. We collected cranial distances of M. vivesi, two related insectivorous bats (M. velifer and M. keaysi), two facultatively piscivorous bats (M. daubentonii and M. capaccinii), and N. leporinus to test for differences among the six species, morphometric data was analyzed applying multivariate methods. We also measured bite force in M. vivesi and evaluated if this value was well predicted by its cranial size. Both piscivorous species were morphologically different from the facultatively piscivorous and insectivorous species, and skull size had a significant contribution to this difference. However, we did not find morphological and functional similarities that could be interpreted as parallelisms between M. vivesi and N. leporinus. These two piscivorous species differed significantly in cranial measurements and in bite force. Bite force measured for M. vivesi was well predicted by skull size. Piscivory in M. vivesi might be associated to the existence of a vertically displaced temporal muscle and an increase in gape angle that allows a moderate bite force to process food.